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The case study describes an oil spill accident that spill several million gallons or to be exact 11 million gallons of pure crude oil into the area in Prince William Sound, Alaska in the year 1989.Thus, it is one of the most devastating human-cause marine environmental damage ever to occurred in the history of mankind. Due to this, the disaster causes major ecological catastrophe to the people of the district or region itself. The massive oil tanker Exxon Valdez which is owned by Exxon Mobil Corporation which is the leading fault in this ever human-made mega disaster. Therefore, Exxon Corporation had taken full responsibilities in term of compensation plan. (Ethics Cases, 2010) [ONLINE]
The case study highlights the critical issues involving in the disaster and then examines the feedback given by Exxon Corporation to deal with it. The issues covered is understanding the factors that lead to the oil spill, analyze all responsibilities of Exxon in conjunction with the oil spill, converse the approach taken by the Corporation to resolve all oil crisis and finally examine step by step the action, damages done to the ecosystem and discussion on the improvement taken by Exxon Corporation in order to overcome this unwanted disaster. (Case Study, 2010) [ONLINE]
On 24 March 1989 just after 4 minutes after midnight, an oil tanker Exxon Valdez bumps into a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The ruptured tanker turns out to leak more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Alaska creating a layer of black oil on the sea surface. Thus, this is one of the biggest oil tanker spill which made into history and transforming the whole Alaskan region to be the most devastating ecological catastrophe. (The Council, 1994) [ONLINE]
The oil spill of Exxon Valdez spread throughout the sea covering about 1400 miles of black oil from the tanker right up to the shoreline. This will become one of the major environmental impacts which will affect the ecosystem, society yet economy. Due to this, lives of millions marine and wildlife almost came to a standstill. The beaches and coastal were also affected by the oil spill. A report is said that an estimation of 300,000 seabirds, 3000 sea otters, 400 harbour seals, 200 bald eagles, 23 killer whales and billions of salmon and hearing eggs came to an end resulting of the oil spill. Despite all this, many cleanup and recovery efforts between 1989 and 1992 were put on the line to minimize the oil spill of Exxon Valdez. Ten years later, the oil spill still endangered many species and yet to be declared fully recovered from the spill. (Cheney: Eastern Washington University Press, 1999) [ONLINE]
The Exxon Valdez oil spill suffered in terms of human communities, society and economy especially people who depends on fish, plant and wildlife as their lively hoods. Ten years had passed by but the oil spill have not recovered yet more devastating is fishing seasons were banned, no commercialize fishing which than lead to a drastic drop on tourism and recreational losses. (New York Free Press, 1997) [ONLINE]
In compensation, Exxon Mobil Corporation had spent more than $3 billion in conjunction with the cleanup efforts and recovery for the past four years following on the oil spill. An agreement is set between Exxon and the U.S government saying that Exxon Corporation agreed to pay $900 million over a period of 10 years as a civil settlement, $30 million for committing an environmental crime, and $100 million for criminal restitution. (Quorum Books, 1995) [ONLINE]
3.1 Examine the aim and objectives of Exxon Mobile Corporation
Exxon Mobil Corporation expressly aims at achievement. They aspires to be the top leading company in any aspect of their business, Thus, the Corporation required basic resources in terms of financial, operational, technological and human to be implemented wisely and evaluated in a regular basis. Besides that, Exxon will consistently improve the efficiency and productivity by learning, sharing and implementing practices. In long term approach, Exxon Corporation will maintain its flexibility to adapt to any changes in their business. Regardless, Exxon Mobile Corporation will try their best to achieve their goals by executing our business plans and strictly follow the guiding principles and the foundation policies which is the 'mission statement' for Exxon in order to succeed.
Exxon follows their principles guide or so called their mission statement to guide relationships between the shareholder, customer, employees, and communities. In shareholder, The Corporation takes full responsibilities in investing dollars which lead by only trust from both sides. The commitment given by Exxon running the business will definitely make the shareholder to be more confident and entrusted the company in investing their money for the company.
In customer relationships, Exxon Corporation goals or success depends on the company's ability to satisfy the customer requirement and needs or changes throughout customer preferences.
In employees' relationship, Exxon Corporation will try their very best in hiring and maintaining the best qualified people available to build toward their goals in order to succeed through proper training and development.
Finally in communities' relationship, Exxon will attain high ethical standards, obey all laws given, rules and regulation and respect all cultures. Regardless, the Corporation are dedicated to run safe and environmentally responsible operations. (ExxonMobil Corp, 2010) [ONLINE]
3.2 Carefully observe the oil and refinery industrial processes and operations
Petroleum refining processes and operations can be separated into five different basic areas:
Formulating and Blending
Other refining operations
Fractionation or in another word distillation is the process of separating crude oil into the atmospheric and vacuum distillation towers to form groups of hydrocarbon compounds which is called as "fraction" or "cuts".
Conversion is none other than a process in changing the size or structure of hydrocarbon molecules. Thus, these processes include:
Decomposition or dividing by thermal and catalytic cracking method
Unification or combining process through alkylation and polymerization
Alteration or rearranging process with isomerization and catalytic reforming
Treatment processes is nothing but to prepare hydrocarbon streams for additional processing and preparing for finishing products. The process may include the removal or separation of aromatic as well as impurities contaminants. Besides that, treatment may involve chemical or physical separation such as dissolving, absorption and etc.
3.2.4 Formulating and Blending
The process of mixing and combining the elements of hydrocarbon fractures, additives, and other components to produce the final products with higher performance in term of properties.
3.2.5 Other Refining and Operations
This will includes light-ends recovery, sour-water stripping, solid waste and waste water treatments, process water treatment and cooling, storage and handling and process measurement. (Petroleum Refining Operations, 2010) [ONLINE]
3.3 Evaluate the risks in all areas that lead to the oil spill disaster and pollution
In conjunction with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there are many risk involved in the accident. One of the risks in this case is ecological risk assessment. Ecological risk is nothing but a methodical way to evaluate the chances that an environmental accident has causes major ecological effects. The Exxon Valdez oil spill causes population effects on harlequin ducks through a process of hydrocarbon contamination of mussels in spill-affected shorelines of Prince William Sound, Alaska. This case study shows how ecological risk assessment can help clarify potential cause-effect relationships in an emotionally and socially charged situation.
Besides that, environmental risk is another risk factor lead to oil spill. This risk endangered people's health, natural resources will be damaged and the result of environmental hazard. Not only that, the risk remains and grows allowing more damages and consequences to occur.
Furthermore, site pollution risk is counted that lead to pollution. The problem occur due to underground tanks were made out of steel which than causes the steel to rust and break and leak out oil into the soil that will damage property values and polluting wells, lake and streams.
Nevertheless, human risk is one of the major risks which causes oil spill. In one of the report, stated that human error causes 80% of oil spills. This show that with new technology also accident still will happen. Human risk can be decrease by proper training.
3.4 Critically identify the consequences of all hazards of the oil spill disaster
The consequences or effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster drastically leads to many changes and left and impact which is devastating throughout the world. The major effects or a consequence of the oil spill covers all areas in term of financial, economy, society and the ecosystem.
As a result of Exxon Valdez oil spill, marine life, wildlife including the mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds that live in or near the ocean are endangered by the oil waste. The effect of the toxic waste destroy and interrupt the living home of the wildlife. Therefore, populations may drastically change or extinct. In long term aspect, the effects of the oil spill will definitely affect the ecosystem, economy, society and financially.
In commercialize fishing; the operations suffered a huge lost due to the impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The water is so contaminated that a large number of marine life came to a standstill by this mega disaster. As a result, fishing became prohibited for a while throughout the Alaskan region. In term of economic impact, the Exxon Valdez oil spill affects the recreational sport fishing so does tourism losses. Tourism losses causes many negative effects which than lead to a decreased on residents and non-resident vacation to the beach due to the affected areas was restricted from trespassing. Businesses are affected too and were ask to close or shift to another location due to the oil spill.
Recreational sport-fishing is one of the water sport which carry a very high budget. In term of financial, the losses was estimated between $0 to $580 million dollars which than carry one of the major effects of oil spill. This causes many sport activities to be banned for a while.
In terms of economical, the effects of the oil spill will cause major changes in oil prices. The prices of crude oil will hike up due long-term demand. Therefore, the oil spill is going to have a dramatic chilling effect in oil exploration creating more crises on the economy side. The consequences of Exxon Valdez oil spill also affect the archaeological resources. Over 4000 of archaeological sites were closed due to the oil spill. Thus, this will exacerbate the finding of artifacts because of the damages done by the oil spill itself.
3.5 What are the improvements and changes in the management systems so to prevent the disaster from happening?
Exxon Mobil Corporation had come out with many improvement and changes to minimize or prevent from another oil spill to occur. Exxon had come out with a way that is to modify the tanker routes. Drug and alcohol testing programs should be implemented for captain and crew for safety purposes. The Corporation should strengthen the training programs for vessel captain and pilots so that they are well prepared in the sea. In terms of technology, improvement for vessel navigation should be improvised to ensure the integrity of oil containment systems.
In conjunction with the oil spill, Exxon had also come out with improvement on response capabilities. Exxon have developed and applied new spill-detector technology which will detect oil spill earlier and trigger the warning alarm. The Corporation is a founding member of every major oil spill throughout worldwide. Besides that, oil tankers are now monitored via satellite to ensure everything is in proper shape. Two escort tankers will accompany each tanker while passing through the entire sound. This is to ensure the two tankers capable to assist them if there are any emergency alert. Furthermore, drills are held in the Sound every year as a precaution move. Contingency plans are practically tested as an improvement in Exxon Valdez oil spill.
As a result of Exxon Valdez incident, The Congress accepted the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which lead the Coast Guard to reinforce its policy on oil tank vessels and oil tank owners and operators. In the present day, tank hulls provide better protection against spills due to the accident, and communications between vessel captains and vessel traffic centers have enhanced to make for safer sailing.
In regards to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Oil Company like Exxon should realize that the consequences of an oil spill can be devastating for wildlife, people, marine life and environment for a long-term. Thus, the managers should consider any oil firms should be more aware of the recommendations and suggestion given in this matter. This is the ethical and responsibility of all oil firms, especially with those transferring oil in bulks. An accepted yet good system should be propose to educate all those employees should play their roles in preventing from oil spill to happened. In this matter, top priority and training should be given to the employees. The top management should play their roles too in implementing oil spill prevention strategies and action taken to prevent another oil spill to occur.
Exxon Mobile Corporation should practice contingency plan although it is rarely used. This is to see if the plan is still effective or not. Since there are new technologies and environmental changes occur, such plans should be minimized accordingly so that the new techniques could be implemented and tested to control oil spill.