The oil spilled more than 14 years ago, but the fallout continues. A federal judge has ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $4.5 billion in punitive damages and $2.25 billion in interest in relation to the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill that severely damaged the Alaskan environment.
Exxon Mobil, the largest publicly traded oil company in the world, will most likely appeal the decision, a company lawyer told Reuters, but no official word came from the company yesterday.
The punitive number was once $5 billion but was reduced to $4 billion and now stands at $4.5 billion by U.S. District Court Judge Russell Holland in Anchorage. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled to limit punitive damages.
Exxon Mobil has already paid $300 million voluntarily to the more than 11,000 people and businesses in Alaska who were affected by the worst oil spill in U.S. history. More than 11 million gallons poured from the Valdez, affecting more than 1,000 miles of coastline and killing countless animals and birds, Reuters reported.
On news of the judgment, Exxon Mobil shares fell nearly 1 percent to $40.81 yesterday.
Editorial Note: On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in the upper part of Prince William Sound. The tanker was carrying approximately 53 million gallons of crude oil. Within a few days, it had spilled almost 11 million gallons of the oil into Prince William Sound. Here are some photos from this spill.