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Exxon Wants Oil Tanker To Sail In Alaska Again

Thu., Jan. 16, 1997, midnight

Exxon Corp. wants the Exxon Valdez to navigate once again in the Alaska waters it fouled with millions of gallons of crude oil in 1989. Some Alaskans are outraged.

Exxon attorneys were to ask a U.S. District Court judge here today to strike down federal legislation that barred the vessel, since renamed the Mediterranean, from Prince William Sound.

“It is impossible to overstate the depth of Exxon’s insensitivity to Alaskan natives,” said Gary Mason, an attorney representing a group of Alaskan natives.

In a brief, Mason and two colleagues argue that Exxon’s proposal not only is offensive to residents of the affected region but also could imperil the fish and fowl that still are recovering from the tanker accident.

The Oil Pollution Act, a provision of which is at issue in the case, “was plainly intended to prevent rusty buckets such as the Exxon Valdez from plying the waters of Prince William Sound again,” the attorneys wrote.

A representative of Exxon’s shipping company said it is challenging the ban because Congress improperly punished the ship’s owners retroactively.

In March 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil.

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