I covered the Exxon Valdez disaster as a tv news cameraman and producer. Starting March 25 through the NTSB hearings and the trial, in Anchorage, that acquitted Exxon Valdez Captain, Joe Hazelwood. From the day I arrived in Valdez to the end of Hazelwood’s trial one thing stood out in sharp contrast. Exxon spent more money, deployed more personnel, and exerted the greatest effort in spinning, denying, lying, blaming, covering up the real story.
The rock scrubbers and subsequent pool coverage of rock scrubbing activity became the front page story and tv news A segment across the USA. The image of Exxon cleaning up and taking responsibility was the biggest joke at press watering holes like The Pipeliner in Valdez, the very same venue last visited by Joe Hazelwood before he boarded the Exxon Valdez and headed out into Prince William Sound with a full load of Prudhoe crude. The most bitterly skeptical, and ultimately the ones with the most lives, careers destroyed, the most suicides, the most bankruptcies were the fishing communities of Valdez and, especially, Cordova. The fishing community knew Exxon was lying from day one. The fishing communities were ruined and Exxon made sure the settlements were minimal. The town of Cordova is still suffering almost 30 years later.
In 1999, ten years after the Exxon disaster, I turned a rock over on a remote beach in Prince William Sound. This had been Exxon’s prime photo-op venue, where the rock washers and wipers created a Disneyesque whistle while you work fantasyland for the cameras. The sickening reality was still under that rock, 10 years later, a puddle of Prudhoe crude, black and smelly as the day it left the pipeline.
Favored uniform of press corps, Valdez AK, 4/6/89.
Now Exxon is Secretary of State. Rex Tillerson is also partners, in a Bermuda based oil company, with Putin and the Russian mob. Pruitt is fast wrecking the EPA with the ultimate goal of ignoring pollution. Exxon will begin selling Russia their fracking and tar sand extraction technology as soon as Trump and Tillerson eliminate US sanctions against Russia. In a country with laws, this would be a conspiracy. Trump, Tillerson, Pruitt, Sessions, Putin are putting an end to that nonsense, law.
LA Times page 1 story 4/6/17.