Exxon Valdez: The Biggest Spill in U.S. History

A tanker hits an Alaskan reef, leaving an eight-mile oil slick

It was the kind of ecological disaster that environmentalists had been warning about since oil first began flowing from Alaska's North Slope twelve years ago. And eerily, it struck last week, on the very day that the 3,100 residents of Valdez had planned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of another disaster: the great Alaska earthquake of 1964, which sent a towering tidal wave smashing into Valdez, killing 131 people. After taking on 1.2 million bbl. of crude at the Valdez terminal, the southern end of the 800-mile Trans- Alaska Pipeline, the 987-ft. tanker Exxon Valdez headed out through Prince William Sound....

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