Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitkans to See Exxon Valdez Anniversary Film

A documentary that details the fallout from the Exxon Valdez oil spill will be shown Friday evening at Kettleson Memorial Library.

The local event was planned to coincide with the 23rd anniversary of the spill, which took place on March 24, 1989 and remains one of North America’s worst environmental disasters.

“Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez,” came out in 2008, and  details the lingering effects the spill has had on the town of Cordova, located in Prince William Sound. 

The film features Riki Ott, a scientist and author who lives in Cordova. Ott, a former commercial fisherman, was one of the first people on the scene in 1989, when millions of gallons of crude oil were spilled into the sound.

Ott has made the case that the spill was preventable and that Exxon, and other oil companies working in the state, did not do enough to prevent an accident.

Organizer Cindy Litman, who is part of the local groups Alaskans Against Corporate Abuse of Power and Sitkans for Peace and Justice, said the film serves as a reminder about the importance of learning from past events.

“We need to be thinking about those things and remembering those things as we move ahead with other decisions,” Litman said.

Litman did not live in Alaska in 1989 and said he naively assumed the spill was an accident. But now, she sees the spill as another example of policy makers not doing enough to regulate corporations.

“It reminds us again of the kind of civic involvement that’s required to prevents these kinds of things,” she said.

The event Friday will run 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the library. Litman said former Sitka High teacher Bill Foster, who was at SHS when the spill occurred, will reprise a lesson he taught back in 1989, using fudge on ice cream sundaes to conjure up oil-covered sea otters.

“You have to bring a little sense of humor,” Litman said.

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