The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill|Business Ethics|Case Study|Case Studies

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG045
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 1989-2004
Pub. Date : 2005
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Exxon
Industry : Petroleum and Petrochemicals
Countries : US

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Causes

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigated the accident, found that there had been several causes that led to the crash of The EV.

These included Hazelwood's failure to provide proper navigation instructions for the EV, Cousins' failure to steer the ship safely, Exxon's failure to supervise Hazelwood and provide sufficient crew for the EV, the US Coast Guard's failure to provide an effective vessel traffic system and the lack of effective pilot and escort services.

Bligh Island and Bligh Reef had been known to navigators since 1930. There was a well-established sea lane that took ships to the west of the Bligh Reef, but Hazelwood took the vessel east of the shipping lanes to avoid the growlers. After being outside the sea lane, the EV's course was directed toward Bligh Reef. However, it would not have been too difficult to avoid the collision with Bligh Reef...

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The Rescue Efforts

The oil spill from the EV led to a major environmental disaster that threatened the survival of the food chain that supported PWS' commercial fishing industry. The lives of ten million migratory shore birds and waterfowls, hundreds of sea otters, dozens of other species such as harbor porpoises and sea lions, and several varieties of whales were in danger.

Such a huge amount of oil had never been spilled over the northern coastal region and biologists were unsure of the implications and how to respond. The location of the spill was remote and it was accessible only by helicopter and boat. Since the spill site was located two hours by boat from the port of Valdez every task was time consuming and equipment had to be delivered by boat or by air. The most important task was to prevent further oil spill as the EV was in an unstable position; the next move was to clean the spill up as quickly as possible. The Alyseka Pipeline Service Company (Alyseka) was chosen to shoulder the responsibility of cleaning up the spill. Soon, Alyseka opened an emergency communications center in Valdez and an operations center in Anchorage, Alaska...

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