‘You don’t know how much you’ve burned’: The history of the refrigerant spill in Oklahoma
Posted On August 5, 2021
The oil spill from a massive oil refinery in Oklahoma’s far north is being called the worst in US history, but the history of how that spill came to be is also being rediscovered.
For decades, the Exxon Valdez refinery in Valdez, Alaska, has been blamed for the deaths of nearly 800 people and caused a $6.8 billion economic loss.
Exxon has acknowledged that the plant’s oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, but has steadfastly denied that it was to blame.
The story of the Valdez spill has taken on new urgency as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to require new oil and gas pipelines to run through the area, and the spill’s devastating effects on the community are being debated in Congress.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted unanimously to hold hearings to discuss the spill and the implications of the regulations.
In addition to the Valdes spill, the hearings will focus on the damage to the nearby community of Boca Raton and the damage that has been done to the town’s economy.
The town is also a key source of oil for the state of Alaska.
“I think the Valdés spill is an embarrassment to Alaska, and it’s an embarrassment for the world,” Senator Lisa Murkowski, the committee chair, told ABC News.
“The spill itself has been a catastrophe for the community, but it’s not a big deal to the state and the federal government.”
The Valdez oil spill, which has been called the most destructive natural disaster in US History, has had a huge economic impact on Boca and surrounding communities, including the town of Bakersfield.
The refinery’s oil leak, which leaked from a tank on the floor of a storage tank, forced Exxon to shut down operations in Boca for months, resulting in an economic collapse that cost the town nearly $4 million.
“We were losing about $1.5 million a day, so we were losing more than $5 million per day,” said Bakersfields mayor, Joe DeLeo, who was forced to shut the town down because of the spill.
“There were a lot of jobs and a lot more people were displaced.
This was a huge blow.”
The refinery and the nearby town of Port Alberni were also the target of a similar Exxon Valdes oil spill in 1982, but that incident, which was blamed on a malfunctioning fire extinguisher, was later attributed to faulty equipment.
Exxon was forced out of the region.
In recent years, Exxon has faced accusations that it failed to take steps to minimize the risk of an oil spill.
The Valdes incident also has been compared to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf in 2010.
The disaster killed 11 men and released more than 300,000 barrels of oil into the sea.
A number of states have proposed mandatory safety requirements for new pipelines that would run through communities near oil refineries, and a federal investigation is underway into the Valdedes spill.
While the Valdecas spill has become the focus of the Exxon-related investigations, the Valdese incident has also been part of the debate over the future of the oil pipeline system that runs through Alaska’s North Slope region.
The pipeline runs from the town that has long served as the heart of Bakingfield, through Boca to Port Alberta, and finally to the city of Port Townsend, where the town has an airport.