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The ship that defined a disaster is finally heading where she belongs.

The once-clean-and-proud Exxon Valdez, renamed several times to avoid the stigma of that name, is heading to the scrap heap.

Perhaps at some point we'll shave with razor blades made from her steel, or ride on bikes, cars, or trains that use her metals.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving vessel.

Despite being renamed, over the years, as Exxon Mediterranean, SeaRiver Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Dong Fang Ocean, or Oriental Nicety, the ship would always be cursed as the Exxon Valdez, responsible for the biggest oil-spill disaster in the U.S. until the BP well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.

After five name changes and several ownership shuffles - and a 2010 collision in the South China Sea - the ship has been sold as scrap for $16 million and was under her own power Tuesday afternoon to Singapore and a coming date with one of the several "ship breakers" along the shores of the Indian Ocean.
I moved to Valdez, Alaska, in the autumn of 1992, a mere 3 years after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, to run the Valdez Vanaguard, one of the town newspapers.

Front page of the Valdez Vanguard after the 1989 Exxon oil spill

The spill still hung very heavy over Valdez. The impact of the March 24, 1989 spill transformed the little city of 3,000 people, filling the streets with vehicles and taking up all available housing. There was no unemployment in Valdez after the spill, because anybody who wanted a job could get something.

But, in basic supply-and-demand, the influx of people caused costs to go up throughout an already expensive place to live. Homeowners were able to rent out spare bedrooms in their homes for $500, $700, $1,000 per month. Sure, the spill created a lot of "spillionaires," people who made a lot of money due to the disaster, but it also brought in crime, family disruptions, and an overwhelmed city infrastructure from traffic congestion to school overcrowding.

The oil spill, as we all know, also crushed the fishing town of Cordova.

There was a move, in the middle-'90s, to allow the Exxon Valdez back to its route of taking oil from the Valdez Marine Terminal. As soon as townspeople heard of that, protests began and the idea was quickly quashed.

Nobody, not even the most ardent pro-oil, wanted to see that ship again heading past Bligh Reef, on which the ship had grounded in 1989.

After repairs, she was sent to work the oil routes in Europe and Asia, and was eventually converted to an ore carrier.

And now, heading to the proverbial scrapheap of history.

Twenty-three years after the spill, almost to the day, may the Exxon Valdez be recycled into items that will benefit their new owners, and may no tanker ever again find itself on the rocks.


The Exxon Valdez should be turned into

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