National Geographic : 1990 Jan
pump it any more. So the total skim for Sedge in seven days was about 3,500 barrels." Such episodes were typical in the spill's first days. NTSB investigators wanted to know why the response team of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company required 12 hours to mobi lize and travel the 28-mile distance to the Exxon Valdez, an apparent violation of the five-hour response time specified in the official contingency plan. There was no violation, protested Law rence D. Shier, Alyeska's marine manager, since the plan merely described "a set of condi tions that cannot really be extrapolated to a real situation." Alyeska was more specific in a written statement subsequently delivered to the board: "Equipment which Alyeska, with the approval of the State of Alaska and the fed eral government, had assembled for use in re sponse to a 'most likely spill' of 1,000 to 2,000 .' tAxZI tb IftLvo-1tvJ. barrels was now being employed to combat an oil spill approximately 175 times larger." CONFUSION WAS THE NORM in Valdez in the first days. Decision making was the province of committees that included representatives of eight state and federal agencies. The strongest voices belonged to members of the Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU), who had won injunctions against construction of the Alaska pipeline. Their battle was lost in 1973 when Congress authorized construction, but Cordovans have had little regard for the oil industry since then-an attitude reinforced by knowledge that today a large red salmon is worth more than a barrel of oil. "The fishermen were the only ones who knew the tides and currents. And we were the only ones who had boats to do the work," I ll i cwow^ 5| Uaftt^ c~o pan. w Z~~et PAINTINGBY JACKUNRUH CONSULTANT:JAMES R. PAYNE, SCIENCEAPPLICATIONS INTERNATIONALCORPORATION Alaska's Big Spill -- .4 4 ... ~. % :E'C;:I* :;~' ;q: mr ~a'i li~~~ : . i";i': ;dl : I:~~I ~irnCt *~*~ n ~ i:F: ~--. O~ '' 'c . " .- I 1 1 " c\- ""'"A Sly , p wq 0 o J..