Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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Supertanker Exxon Valdez, second newest in fleet, 984-feet, 
24 Mar 1989, 9:12 p.m. ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Calm seas, clearly marked maps
Uncertified 3rd mate Gregory Cousins at helm
Capt Joseph Hazlewood had been drinking heavily & was resting

11 million gallons of crude oil spilled
Still (2007) largest oil spill in US history

Wind & current carried spill to 1,500 miles of shoreline

The Customer: 
Exxon visible multinational corporation; largest oil company CEO Lawrence Rawl uncomfortable with public role Always a low-profile company Corporate suspicion of media Rigid & hierarchical internal structure Public environment included industry criticism on size & safety of supertankers General degradation of safety & oversight practices
Government & gov't agencies: Want investigation, regulation, restitution, cleanup, potential punishment Oil industry: Hope to save face, not jeopardize operations Exxon stockholders: Want continued financial profitability Media: Demand immediate information, full disclosure, culpability Environmental activists: Angry, seek restitution, participate in cleanup
The Challenge: 
Analysis of Issue Problem of international scope Intense scrutiny Exxon culpability re: alcoholism problem of Hazlewood Consequences on Exxon's visibility, reputation, legal future, financial base
Decided to handle response with no outside public relations consultants Ignored criticism Dismissed interest/involvement of environmental activists Refused to acknowledge extent of problem (abiding by legal advice) Refused assistance from local residents & environmental volunteers to help with cleanup Fear appeal: predicting increase in gasoline prices because of cleanup cost Shifting blame: Accused Alaska & Coast Guard of causing delay in cleanup