Oral Arguments Orders In Exxon Valdez Reopener Case

The U.S. District Court in Anchorage has ordered oral arguments in the Exxon Valdez in mid-November in litigation aimed at making Exxon Corp. pay up an additional $92 million for additional cleanup of the oil spill disaster in Prince William Sound. Back in 1991, Exxon agreed to pay $900 million n damages over the next decade for cleanup costs, in a deal that allowed the government to reopen the case, in the event there remained issues not adequately addressed in the cleanup.

Five years ago, in 2006, given evidence that habitat and species were still impacted by the spill more than 22 years ago, both the Justice Department and the State of Alaska filed a claim asking that Exxon make an additional $92 million in payments.

To date Exxon has declined to pay any additional monies, and the Justice Department has not pushed for payment, but Rick Steiner, a marine biologist who spent 14 years working in Prince William Sound, is pushing for Exxon to pay up.

Steiner was in Cordova following the spill in 1989 when Exxon executive Don Cornett told residents of that town “You have had some good luck, and you don’t realize it. You have Exxon, and we do business straight. We will consider whatever it takes to keep you whole.”

Steiner said in documents filed with the court on Oct. 11, urged the court to enforce the 2006 government demand for payment under the reopener provision. He argued that governments must retain sovereignty over environmental offenses and be entitled to collect “even if improperly presented by government agents, any and all damages necessary to remediate environmental damages caused by offending activities as stipulated in an approved consent agreement.”