Alaska, Justice Department won't seek additional damages in Exxon Valdez settlement

By Emily Moore | Oct 29, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Legal Newsline) -- The Department of Justice and the state of Alaska have announced they will not seek additional damages under the 1991 Exxon Valdez oil spill settlement.

In March 1989 the grounding of the tanker vessel Exxon Valdez spilled nearly 11 million gallons of North Slope crude oil, contaminating more than 1,500 miles of Alaska’s coastline.

A plea agreement was reached in October 1991, resolving criminal charges under federal environmental law violations that required Exxon to pay $124 million in criminal fines and restitutions.

A civil settlement also was reached between Exxon, the United States and the state of Alaska in which $900 million was paid over 10 years to the government to cover costs and restoration of damaged natural resources.

After the 1991 settlements, a consent decree was left as a provision so that the government could potentially seek an additional $100 million for damages found later in the restoration process. A preliminary action was taken in 2006 for a potential re-opener claim but a study showed the wildlife areas in the claim had been restored to pre-spill levels.

“Although we will not be pursuing Exxon for additional damages, our decision [Oct. 28] does not close the book on lingering oil,” said Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards “We are fortunate to have alternatives for dealing with this issue that can be undertaken without the constraints of the re-opener language. We will be engaging Alaskans through the trustee council process to advise us on what steps they would like to see us take. ”

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