The lead sentence in the July 18 edition article, “State of Alaska culprit in 1989 spill,” said that if Exxon had received an open burn permit from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in a timely manner, “almost all” of the 11 million gallons of spilled crude oil could have been incinerated before a storm hit on the evening of Sunday, March 26.
That’s not the case. DEC blew the opportunity to destroy a “significant” amount of the oil that killed thousands of birds and animals and oiled 1,300 miles of pristine shoreline, but not “almost all the oil.”
The mistake was not the fault of freelance writer Steve Sutherlin; rather I changed the wording in editing the article because the burn rate I had heard about was 200,000 gallons of oil per hour, whereas Steve quoted a different source in the article that said 50,000 gallons per hour.
If Steve’s source is correct, then 1.8 million gallons of oil that could have been incinerated by midnight on Sunday if burning had started around noon on Saturday, March 25.
If my source, not quoted in the article, was correct then 7.2 million gallons would have been burned.
In either case, it is a “significant” amount of oil, but not “almost all” the oil.
We’re going back to our research and sources for more precise information. Please feel free to contact Steve Sutherlin if you have information about the burn rate that is verifiable.
My apologies for the error.
Following is the headline and a replacement subhead and lead paragraph for the article, both of which have already been inserted in the article on Petroleum News’ online story archive and in the pdf of the July 18 issue:
Head: State of Alaska culprit in 1989 spill
Subhead: If DEC had heeded Exxon, harm to environment, wildlife would have been less
Lead paragraph: Exxon Corp. wanted to burn freshly spilled oil from the 1989 tanker spill in Prince William Sound, but a slow response by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation blew the opportunity to destroy a significant amount of the oil that killed thousands of birds and animals and oiled 1,300 miles of pristine shoreline.
—Kay Cashman, publisher & executive editor
Contact Steve Sutherlin: [email protected] or (907) 250-1533