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Exxon Valdez Sold For Scrap Decades Later For $16 Million

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In this June 23, 1989 photo, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker is towed out of Prince William Sound in Alaska by a tug boat and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter. The Exxon Valdez was sold for $16 million.
In this June 23, 1989 photo, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker is towed out of Prince William Sound in Alaska by a tug boat and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter. The Exxon Valdez was sold for $16 million.

More than 20 years later, a ship best known for causing an environmental catastrophe is finally being put to rest.

The Exxon Valdez, which spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989, is being bought for $16 million by Global Systems Marketing Inc., a firm that purchases ships for demolition, Bloomberg reports. The vessel, now known as the Oriental Nicety, has changed names and owners four times since the infamous disaster.

At the time, the Exxon Valdez spill was the largest in U.S. history and resulted in Exxon having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid criminal prosecution, as well as to resolve civil claims made by federal and state governments, according to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Office. In addition, the company paid nearly $4 billion in cleanup costs.

Still, Exxon avoided a larger punishment. In 1994, an Anchorage jury awarded victims of the spill $5 billion, but after a 15-year legal battle the case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices awarded the victims just $507 million, according to CBS.

The long and protracted legal battle waged by victims may have helped shaped the decision by fishermen affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 -- now the largest in U.S. history -- to settle quickly with BP, according to the Christian Science Monitor. A group of fishermen agreed earlier this month to drop litigation against BP in exchange for a $7.8 billion payout.

The Exxon Valdez spill cost tens of thousands of people who depended on fishing for a living a total of $300 million, according to the Center for American Progress. In addition, tourism in southwest Alaska plunged 35 percent in the year immediately following the spill.

But Exxon still managed to take home billions of dollars in the spill’s aftermath and today is currently in a back-and-forth battle with Apple for the title of most valuable company in the world.

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