The High Cost Of Catastrophe

Exxon's tab for the Alaskan spill is more than $1.2 billion

"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!"

Like Lady Macbeth, Exxon has learned to its sorrow that some stains cannot be easily scrubbed away. Exxon said last week that it will have to spend $1.28 billion, or ten times as much as initial projections, to clean up the 11 million gal. of crude oil that the supertanker Exxon Valdez spewed into Alaska's Prince William Sound last March. The surprising estimate, which did not take into account potential penalties or lawsuit settlements, made the Alaskan disaster one of the most expensive industrial accidents ever.

To handle the cleanup, Exxon has deployed an army...

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