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A reader in Boston asks, 'Whatever happened to ...?' The Exxon Valdez

Just after midnight on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran onto Bligh Reef, near Valdez, Alaska. Nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into Prince William Sound. The accident fouled some 1,000 miles of coastline, including four wildlife refuges and three national parks.

The cleanup cost Exxon more than $2.1 billion. It also paid a $250 million fine and a $900 million settlement. Fixing the tanker cost $25 million.

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What do you do with a ship whose name is synonymous with "environmental nightmare"?

Answer: Rename it. The SeaRiver Mediterranean now carries oil in the Mediterranean.

"It has an absolutely exemplary record" there, an Exxon spokesman says. But profit margins for oil transport are slim in the Mediterranean, and Exxon wants to return the vessel to Alaska.

A clause in Congress's 1990 Oil Pollution Act bans the ship from Alaskan waters. Exxon has filed an appeal.

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