tv The Spill CSPAN August 9, 2019 11:14pm-11:44pm EDT
>> while women were instrumental in helping to organize and put the march together, the events were surely dominated by men . >> sunday at 4:30 pm eastern, the global significance of the duration of independence during and after the american revolution . >> multiple translations of our declaration also made their way to columbia, venezuela and ecuador over the course of the 50 year period after 1776. a half-century known to scholars is the age of revolution . >> at 6 pm, eyewitness accounts from inside the white house during the apollo 11 lunar landing . >> we really staked ourselves into the cabinet room, throughout the day you could see the windows were dark, so the nighttime, the module landed at 4:15 pm and then the astronauts did not walk until
later . >> explore nations past on american history tv, every weekend on cspan-3 >> i woke up at my home was in a suburb of anchorage it was all over the news. so, by the time i got to work and you all about it. my first reaction was disbelief, how could this happen . then, the second reaction was just shock at the enormity of it. they spilled like 11 million gallons of oil and covered like 11,000 mi.2 of ocean before it was done. the scale was inconceivable until it happened . >> where were you working, and what was your job there >> i worked for the anchorage daily news and i was a reporter , primarily doing investigative work but also covering business so i covered oil even before the spill . >> can you tell us what the history of the oil industry was
in alaska, how large was it during that time . >> a modern oil industry that we know today got its start in alaska in 1967 when there is a huge oil strike, the pipeline began operating in 1973 and that was when the tanker traffic began so about 15 or 16 years passed before the spill. the oil industry in alaska from the day oil was discovered had an enormous mind share in this state. it was instantly recognized as the biggest source of funding for state government. for a long time it was the only source that mattered. the oil industry produced money so fast that one of the jokes was, even the alaska legislature couldn't waste that all.
some of it cumulated in the permanent fund, a lot of it was spent on state services. so, the oil industry started generating all this money and took an acute interest in politics because they're always interested in taxes and regulation so, over time their influence over the legislature became enormous and it was almost mandatory to be oil friendly to get elected to the legislature . >> who were some of the big companies that were operating out of here . >> well, the big trees were in rbp exxon mobil and conoco phillips. over time the names have changed as companies merged and absorb each other so, early in the day what is now konica was arco but, the big three players have it changed much. the big three are bp and exxon . >> you mentioned their influence over the legislature. what did that mean for regulations regarding oil in
the state? >> this was always an enormous battle to get any new regulation in place and the trend ran in the opposite direction. regulations tend to get looser not tighter that was really affect in what happened in the oil spill. most regulation having to do with the operation of the tanker of the exxon valdez were federal in origin and focus. the regulations having to do with lena, on the other hand, were fundamentally at the state level and that was part of the problem regulations were a big part of the problem. the federal oversight of tanker operations were to lose and that's when the tanker hit the reef. the state oversight of cleanup readiness put to loose and that's why alaska, the company that runs the tanker terminal
escort tugs were just unprepared for cleanup. so, for the first three days or so there was essentially no cleanup effort. it was ideal cleanup weather. they had weather and characteristic for that time of year. they had three days of really good weather and a glassy lake of oil spitting out from the tanker and essentially nothing happening to clean it up . >> can we explain to the people who are watching, how does the oil process work what is the oil pool from and why was it even on a tanker and then where was it going? >> sure. the oil is produced on alaska's north slope which is up in the art. really a harsh climate, harsh environment, permafrost country. so, it's hard to operate and you have to be careful not to disrupt things, is in operation
of caribou and polar bears that have to be protected and they've done a pretty good job on that part of it. so, on the north slope, to big fields are gigantic fields on the scale of saudi arabia or russia or something. and, on the north slope it's put into a pipeline that runs 100 miles south across the middle of alaska to the board of audis on prince william sound. and, there it's loaded onto oil tankers and ship to to markets on the u.s./west coast. i think the exxon valdez was headed for long beach but it was carrying about 53 million gallons of oil so it lost about 20% of the cargo and the rest is history, sadly . >> can we talk about what happened on that day? >> sure, the tanker left valdez a little before midnight and
sailed out of valdez and through prince william sound and at 12:04 am on 24 march which is good friday, it the reef, well known and well marked navigational hazard in prince william sound. what had happened before, earlier in the day, there were reports of icebergs in the tanker lanes. so, the captain requested permission to deviate from the tanker lanes to avoid these icebergs in case they were still there. so, it's a fairly tricky maneuver, nothing unusual it happens all the time. the failure was to return to the tanker lanes at the proper point and they sailed into the reef . >> the master was a guy named joe hazlewood, there was always a question as to whether he was drinking and if he was drinking
was at a faster that was never established clearly so we put the third made in charge of the bridge in order to do paperwork. the tanker cruise, identified as one of the factors in the accident worked very hard, the size of the crews on the ships had been reduced over the years . >> it was a constant battle and that was identified as a contributing factor. at any rate the third mate was in charge of the bridge and he wasn't qualified and shouldn't have been doing what he was doing but it comes back to the work load all of those were addressed after the fail. we haven't had another one so perhaps they were >> how much oil was the tanker
carrying and how much spelled out >> it had about $53 million on board -- 53 million gallons on board and they usually measure in barrels but that was one in a million barrels and in this bill it lost about 11 million gallons which was around 250,000 barrels. the question of how much it lost is been controversial, so the number i just gave you was a generally accept did figure. the reason it's hard to figure out how much oil it lost is that as the oil came out the water came in, it was hard to get an exact measurement of how much was lost . >> you mentioned this happened in prince william sound, where is that located and if people had visited their cup prior to the oil field what would they have found their? >> this sound is located on the gulf of alaska, a couple hundred miles south of anchorage
. this beautiful expansive enclosed waters with islands and peninsulas and coastlines, a population of sea birds and fish and animals and sea otters and so on. anyone who ever visited prince william sound has just been stunned by the natural beauty. and, relatively untouched by man, you see little development at all, a few little fishing villages, a few fishing boats on the water, maybe some cargo vessels with containers to the poor valdez, but very little touch from the hand of man. so, then you have this tanker that spilled the oil and swallowed everything in sight and it was a shock to the conscience and into the consciousness, how could this happen >> what does, when oil spilled
into a large body of water like that, what does it do to it how fast is it travel? do we know >> the oil in and of itself doesn't travel very fast, it floats on the top and is carried by currents it doesn't intend to disperse rapidly into the water if the water is calm but if you get a storm as happened after the spill, then it gets turned up by the waves and mixes into the water. so, when that happens it's a threat to the fish and plankton and so on in the water. when it's on the surface it the threat to birds and sea otters and quails because they have to come up and breathe. after it floats around for a while and the wind took it up it hits the beaches and destroys the beach ecosystem . >> when was exxon alerted that this had happened and when did the actual efforts to try to stop it begin?
>> i'm sure that exxon was alerted immediately by the crew of the ship i know for a fact that the captain of the ship got on the radio and called the coast guard immediately and said were leaking oil and were aground and he said on the radio that he said he was gonna try to rock the boat and get off the reef and proceed which was a terrifying possibility. the ship was so deadly damaged it would've capsized if it had succeeded but it didn't, so the ship stayed on the reef and continued to leak oil. the response effort began almost immediately, the problem was there were so few resources and boats and booms and cleanup available that not much could be done. so, it started from a tiny
beginning in ramped up over the rest of the spring and summer . >> whose responsibility was it was it for the oil spill or did exxon have a plan? it did exxon have a response plan or alaska >> the primary responsibility fell on axon as the shipper. in valdez the response plan at least in the immediate aftermath of the spill is carried out by this pipeline service company. when there's a spill at the time they were responsible for the first three days of the response effort so, they are the ones cleanup equipment to try clean up the mess and prevent it from spreading. after the first three days this filler is supposed to take over management and exxon did that
in a relatively short time. what are the processes of cleaning up and then what are the challenges of an oil spill of the magnitude? specs oversimplified a bit there are two aspects of lean up one is containment and the other is removal in boulder difficult and then a lot of the oil hit the beaches and so removal was difficult and what it supposed to do is break the
oil once it gets into the water into tiny little smaller globules that can be processed by bacteria and so on in the water oil is an organic substance and given the right circumstances, nature will reprocess it into harmless things. the problem is it's pretty poisonous itself and it's not clear that it actually did what it was supposed to, there's some evidence that what we ended up with was not one poison in the water but to. it was abysmal failure. so, they noticed the oil on the rocks on the beach and they had two solutions, one was ridiculous and one was devastating. there's a lot of photographs of this and video but they hired people to go out on the beach with essentially paper towels and white oil off the rocks. and the second thing they did, what they said what
we would do is get high pressure hot water washers and we will blast the oil beaches with hot water and it will wash the oil back into the water and then we can actually ended up. we don't think it was much but they did further damage to the ecosystems on the beaches with the hot water that was hot and also blessed some of the oil deeper into the sand. so it was an abysmal failure. so maybe they got 15% but it's just a wild guess, no one really knows. it's probably fair to say that the cleanup effort was a pr effort to show america and the world that something was being done to clean up the soil. one of the exxon officials said soon after the spill that they would clean it all up but of course they didn't come close .
>> how far did the oil spread? >> the furthest oil from exxon valdez that was documented was 12 or 1300 miles away. it showed out of prince william sound and worked its way around and actually came up to the south end of cook inlet which is where anchorages, a completely different body of water and by see several hundred miles . >> we talked a few minutes ago about who had to come up with this response plan and i told you that the responsibility lay on the spiller which is true but all the agencies, federal and state in line to participate they have to have their own response plan to think what they're gonna do. so, everybody in prince william sound, every agency was theoretically ready as a practical matter, none of them were but they were all sort of
on the front line immediately, anyone who had a presence had to jump in immediately . >> the oil spill had a devastating impact on the fishing industry and other than people who work for the oil industry, fishing was the mainstay of the sound economy so outside of valdez, it was kind of fishing or commercial fishing. so they had shrimp, herring, crab and, after the spill the fisheries were closed. she just destroyed the market for years to come fishing was one in shrimp was another. so the fact that fishing had been shut down and everyone was
going broke, of course this agonizing dilemma on the fisherman, that was hiring the boats and cruise themselves on exxon to help in the cleanup and there were some who just wouldn't do it, they couldn't work for exxon there were others who could and provoked hideous division and there was a divisive turn, billionaires they made millions of dollars off the spill. so the longer-term result of all the disruption in prince william sound was real social dysfunction but the one group that was loosely setting the advisory council there were increases in every form of family and social dysfunction you can imagine, there was more drinking and more suicide and more divorces and more family violence everything bad that
can happen to a small one industry society happened to the people in prince william sound . >> how long did it take the cleanup until it was completed? >> the cleanup was intensive for the first year and it continued in the summer for another year or two and then was discontinued because there wasn't much left. it's worth saying that even today there is some oil under some beaches in prince william sound cannot allot just a few thousand gallons but it's a testament to the persistence of the soil that's a cold climate or cool at least and once the oil gets below the surface it doesn't degrade very fast so it hasn't been turned into routine compounds . >> did congress ever get involved expect congress did get involved, they pass legislation and had hearings
ended investigations. the biggest legislative outcome of the spill was the oil pollution act of 1990, which remedied a lot of perceived defect that led onto the exxon valdez spill . >> a what were some of the key points in it that would affect oil . >> there were several, it required that hangers be escorted by two tugs all the way out of prince william sound and those two tugs were not only there to assist the tankers and may be the blunder that led to the exxon spill but they also have response equipment on them and in theory would be able to respond immediately if a tanker started leaking oil. if it was just possible to put a around the exxon valdez, it would've helped. the other big change was fiercely advocated by people in prince william sound and even before the oil started.
it required double halls on oil tankers. and there were a bunch of oil in the tanker and an inch of steel are however sick the whole is and then you have seawater. so when he puncture would result in an oil leak with double holes on the size of the tankers in prince william sound , there were two holes set rated by about 11 feet of airspace or water or gas or whatever they want in there. you could get a fairly serious puncture with no leak it was estimated at the spill that if the exxon valdez had had a double hole the size of the spill would've been dramatic the reduced but i think under the order of 80% less, tremendous difference.
all the american ports that carried all had to have double holes by the deadline . >> did alaska impose any regulations? >>, as far as the political climate goes for a year or two alaskans were down on the oil industry but it passed the biggest funding source of the government and i'm sure the biggest source of donations to the legislature a lot of people work in the oil industry and a lot of people know that the benefits they get from the state come from tax from the
oil industry in then we have this thing called the alaska permanent fund there now starting to pay for the government because this has declined as oil production has declined. one abuse it's been put to is something called the alaska permanent fund dividend and once he or the state send every alaskan a check of the lowest was 1000 the highest 2200 and once he or and it all knows it comes from oil money but now it's the earnings from the fund but the fund came from oil money. but, oil and the oil industry has a tremendous mind share alaska and it's a love-hate
relationship a lot of people hated the oil industry because of the spill and a lot of them still do because of the way it controls politics and a bad marriage, it's not white bad enough to get out of . >> can we relate this to the bp oil spill that happened off the coast of louisiana? were there any similarities and did they learning the ring from what happened in alaska there were no parallels cut to different sets of circumstances. what was similar was the fact they were caught flat footed. i'm sure they had all kinds of plans to keep that from happening and plans to deal with it when it did happen but did any of it work? but what was very familiar and to a
considerable extent that lives along the gulf of the ghost and so after the spill a lot of people came up from here to look at what we done in having a mechanism to give citizens a voice in how the oil industry up rates in these areas. the mikado spill was much larger than the exxon valdez and the flow just went on day after day for an inconceivable amount of time to where is the exxon valdez was a one and done event . >> do you think that the oil industry has learned its lessons from valdez and the oil spill off the coast of louisiana ? >> yes and no. yes, because in the immediate
aftermath they didn't respond, i make no judgment as the sincerity of the response but if history is any guide for the lessons will be lost, the attention will turn to other matters but the oil list industry getting lighter regulations never waned they will always be there and always be doing. so, i have a saying about capitalism that is not quite as damning as it might sound. capitalism is a moral with no soul and no conscience. the goal of capitalism is to minimize cost and maximize revenue it will always do that because that is in the dna. well, capitalism is a wonderful tool for increasing economic efficiency. but, it comes with the whole set of risks and we seen the consequences in the gulf of mexico and in prince william sound.
so, what society must never do is forget that it's up to society to set the rules under which capitalism operates. because, as i say capitalism in and of itself has no soul and no morality and it will do what it has to to make money and, again it's up to society to never let up, because when we do we get mcconnell and exxon valdez. >> this is a special edition of american history tv, example of the compelling history programs that every weekend on american history tv like lectures and history, american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency and special event coverage about our nations history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on cspan-3 .
>> saturday, female activists in the 1960s civil rights movement . >> while women were instrumental in helping to organize and put the march together, the events were poorly dominated by men . >> sunday at 4:30 pm eastern of the global significance of the declaration of independence during and after the american revolution. >> multiple translations of our death ration also made their way to columbia, venezuela and ecuador over the course of the 50 year period after 1776. a half-century known to scholars as the age of revolution . >> at 6 pm, eyewitness accounts from inside the white house during the apollo 11 lunar landing . >> we really staked ourselves into the cabinet room there throughout the day you can see the windows were dark, so,
during the my time the module landed at 4:15 pm and then the astronauts did not walk until later. >> explore nations fast on american history tv, every weekend on c's and three -- cspan-3 >> more than 500,000 students competed this year at the local level of national history day. just 3000 students advance to the finals at the university of maryland in june. the theme in 2019 was triumph and tragedy presentation categories include exhibit, website, documentaries, paper and performance. up next, a 10 minute performance by three middle school students from nebraska . >> this is triumph and tragedy.