Environmental Damage Claim Against Exxon Close, But Not Yet Resolved

More than 23 years and counting since the Exxon
oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, spilling 10.8 million
gallons of oil into the pristine waters, the case is still in court over unsettled
claims for environmental damage.
Conservation biologist Rick Steiner of Anchorage said Oct. 17
that Exxon Corp. still hasn’t paid the federal government and state of Alaska $92
million the state claimed for remaining damage from that March 23, 1989 environmental
When the federal and state governments demanded those funds from
Exxon in the late summer of 2006, Exxon said they were not going to pay, and the
governments did not try to collect the funds to finance environmental damage harmful
to marine mammals and other wildlife, Steiner said.
So in the spring of 2010, Steiner asked the US District Court
to order Exxon to pay. Federal Judge H. Russel Holland held a hearing, at which
Exxon, the governments and Steiner all presented testimony, and the governments
said they needed more time to study the case, Steiner said. The court gave them
another year, Exxon filed a motion for dismissal of the claim, and the court kept
granting the governments more time to study the matter. At length, Holland said
he wanted to see an update by Sept. 28, 2012, and on that date, the governments
filed a seven page status report, noting that the governments “anticipate discussing
with Exxon its interest in participating in those next steps and a possible resolution
of the governments’ demand to Exxon under the reopener” of the case.
Steiner said that by his calculations, at 5 percent interest,
Exxon owes about $120 million by now and ought to pay up and be done with it. He
is concerned, he said, that the government, in private negotiations, may settle
for much less.