I’ve been reading about the Exxon Valdez oil spill pretty regularly throughout the last year in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s archives as part of my job. It’s a pretty amazing story of carelessness, stupidity and ultimately, disaster. The spill was the largest ever in US waters until the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. Disasters like the Exxon Valdez spill, especially when they occur in remote areas like Prince William Sound, can have far-reaching consequences. The cleanup lasted four years before being called off — some beaches along Alaska’s coast are still covered in oil. And it took 25 years before Alaska’s sea otter population recovered from the disaster. I was curious how far the oil’s effects reached. Luckily, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources had some data on that and I put together this map. It shows the “maximum extent of the oiled shorelines, severely affected communities and their immediate human use areas and adjacent uplands.”

Exxon Valdez oil spill

Maximum extent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill
The shaded area shows the “maximum extent of the oiled shorelines, severely affected communities and their immediate human use areas and adjacent uplands.” (Joe Fox/joemfox.com)

If you’re interested in seeing photos from the spill, The Atlantic put together a great post about it last year.

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