06:39 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 25, 2005
By MEEGHAN BLACK / KING 5 News
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, Alaska - $100 million is still available for problems associated with the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Eleven million gallons of crude oil gushed into Prince William Sound in March 1989 when the Exxon Valdez hit a reef off the Alaskan coast.
Exxon settled the case for $900 million, plus an additional $100 million for unforeseen damages.
To date no one has made a claim on that money.
University of Washington law professor William Rodgers and eight students from the Kathy and Steve Berman Environmental Law Clinic researched the Exxon Valdez disaster.
The bottom line is, according to that research, there's still significant ongoing damage and money should be recovered quickly. The deadline to make a claim is September 2006.
But Prof. Rodgers is skeptical that either the U.S. government or the state of Alaska will seek compensation.
"There are very close relationships with this administration and the U.S. with the petroleum industry. The state of Alaska has all kinds of ties. This is linked as well to the opening up of ANWR, so there are a lot of people who would be annoyed if the reopener were pursued," he said.
The $100 million could be used to restore resources that suffered a substantial loss or decline as a result of the oil spill. For example, research shows the herring industry has been virtually wiped out since the spill.
The students hope their paper will help persuade either the state of Alaska, the federal government or Native Alakans to claim the available funds.
The Berman Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Washington is evaluating what it can do to help Native Alaskans make a claim against Exxon for the $100 million.