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Oil Spill Facts

Settlement

What was the settlement with Exxon?
The settlement among the State of Alaska, the United States government and Exxon was approved by the U.S. District Court on October 9, 1991. It resolved various criminal charges against Exxon as well as civil claims brought by the federal and state governments for recovery of natural resource damages resulting from the oil spill. The settlement had three distinct parts:

Criminal Plea Agreement

Exxon was fined $150 million, the largest fine ever imposed for an environmental crime. The court forgave $125 million of that fine in recognition of Exxon's cooperation in cleaning up the spill and paying certain private claims. Of the remaining $25 million, $12 million went to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and $13 million went to the national Victims of Crime Fund.

Criminal Restitution

As restitution for the injuries caused to the fish, wildlife, and lands of the spill region, Exxon agreed to pay $100 million. This money was divided evenly between the federal and state governments.

Civil Settlement

Exxon agreed to pay $900 million with annual payments stretched over a 10-year period. The final payment was received in September 2001.  The settlement contains a "reopener window" between September 1, 2002 and September 1, 2006, during which the governments could make a claim for up to an additional $100 million. The funds must be used to restore resources that suffered a substantial loss or decline as a result of the oil spill, the injuries to which could not have been known or anticipated by the six trustees from any information in their possession or reasonably available to any of them at the time of the settlement (September 25, 1991). On June 1, 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Alaska Department of Law announced that they have taken the first step in asserting a claim under the Reopener provision by providing ExxonMobil Corporation with a detailed project plan for the cleanup of lingering oil at an estimated cost of $92 million. More information on the status of the reopener

View a diagram of the settlement at at glance

View the Settlement Documents:
Memorandum of Agreement and Consent Decree (US vs. Exxon Corp.) (August 29, 1991)
Agreement and Consent Decree (US vs. State of Alaska) (September 20, 1991)
Governments' Memorandum in Support of Agreement and Consent Decree (October 8, 1991)