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Exxon Valdez: The Spin Cycle | 3

Exxon Valdez: The Spin Cycle | 3

Tue, 05 Feb 2019 08:05

After Captain Hazelwood’s arrest, Exxon tries to clean up its public image. President Bush tells Exxon to pick up the pace on the cleanup. Fisherman Riki Ott takes on Big Oil in the Alaska State Legislature.

Photos of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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It's 1985, four years before the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and Prince William Sound. Captain Joseph Hazelwood stands in the wheelhouse of the Exxon tanker Chester. His ship is carrying 27,000 tons of asphalt from New York to South Carolina, an easy run, he's made many times before. But today, as he looks toward the southern horizon, he sees dark skies ahead, the storm moving in, fast, and a big one. Within minutes, 30 foot waves sweep across the deck, a screaming sheer of wind rips the antenna off the tanker's wheelhouse, killing the radar and the ship's radio in one fell swoop. Then the entire ship goes dark, all electrical systems dead. But Hazelwoods cut off from the outside world, standing at the helm of a 45,000 ton steel coffin, tossing and heaving in the storm. Crew members panic, pull on lifefests and prepare to jump overboard. The first mate bursts into the wheelhouse, all systems are down, Captain, we need to get everybody off this ship now, abandoned ship. We're not going anywhere. Captain Hazelwood knows that jumping into these waters is suicide, their only chance of survival is to save the ship. Hazelwoods been out on the sea since he was a kid. He's always had a knack for knowing what to do in tough situations on the water. As a teen, he once got caught in a storm just like this one, onboard a 65 foot schooner on Long Island Sound. While the other kids on deck started vomiting and crying, Hazelwood calmly climbed the ship's 50 foot tall mast to haul in the air and mainsail alone, in Gail Force Winds. Hazelwoods been here before, so now, onboard the Exxon Tanker Chester, with the lives of his crew on the line, Hazelwood stays calm again. He rakes up a makeshift radio antenna, then guides his wounded tanker through the storm back to New York for repairs. It's a feat that will make him a legend among the men and women who crew exxon ships, and it will make his bosses at Exxon furious. As soon as he reaches port, he's called into the corporate office where an executive immediately lays into him. Why'd you turn back? You're supposed to be making a delivery in South Carolina today, with all due respect, sir, you're lucky you didn't lose the ship entirely, not to mention the cargo and the crew. The executive's eyes narrow. Losing the cargo is not an option. Your pay to deliver the product. On time, no matter what. All his life, Hazelwood wanted adventure. He wanted to be out at sea, going places, and calling all the shots along the way. Exxon gave him the chance to do that when they made him the youngest captain in their fleet in 1979, but as soon as he put his captain's uniform on for them, he felt him dim. Micromanaged by a bottom line, by bureaucracy, by men and women like this exec, people who sit behind desks all day and have no idea what it's like to face a freak storm that forces a choice between profit and survival. But Hazelwood's got a wife and a daughter, and a little house on Long Island he'd like to hang on to, so he sucks it up. He's running asphalt, an oil, on time, and in order. He dots his eyes and crosses his teeth, and he yeses the folks up at the corporate office. And he drinks. Heavily. For Hazelwood, alcohol is the only way to ease the tension between the job he always wanted when the one he's got. The alcohol makes it possible to carry on until the dark Alaskan night of March 23, 1989. Lots of people don't know it, but autumn is an ideal time to plant. Shorter days and cooler nights create ideal conditions for the plants to get established. If you're looking to spruce up your home, proven winners color choice shrubs has an amazing selection of flowering shrubs and evergreens for planting in gardens and landscapes, with around 320 different proprietary varieties, including classics limelight, hydrangea, and little Henry sweet spire. All of their shrubs are trialled and tested for 8 to 10 years to ensure they outperform anything else on the market. Look for proven winners color choice shrubs in the distinctive white containers at your local garden center. Learn more and find a local retailer at slashwondry. That's slashwondry. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. Some wonder I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scandal. In our last episode, as the worst oil spill in US history continued to spread unchecked, the press finally found someone to take the fall for the disaster. Exxon Valdez Captain Joseph Hazelwood. This is episode three, The Spin Cycle. On April 5th, 1989, 13 days after the Exxon Valdez ran aground, Joseph Hazelwood steps out of the glass double doors of the Suffolk County District Attorney's office in Long Island, New York. He squints against a bright overcast guy and rubs at the fingerprinting ink staining his hands. Minutes ago, he came out of hiding to turn himself in on criminal charges related to the spill. Three lawyers lead him across the parking lot towards the District Courthouse, where his bail hearing is scheduled to begin momentarily. Hazelwood is thousands of miles from Prince William's town, where his ship sits wounded inside a 2500 square mile oil spill. But he feels like the spill has followed him here. Up ahead, a gauntlet of reporters waits for him at the entrance of the courthouse. They've heard Hazelwood has emerged from hiding, and if there's going to be a perp walk today, they don't want to miss it. But Hazelwood's not in handcuffs. The three charges he's facing are only misdemeanors, operating a vessel while intoxicated, reckless endangerment, and negligent discharge of oil. Relatively minor offenses, although the week he's just lived through has made him feel like he's charged with crimes against humanity. Eight days ago, on March 28th, he flew out of Alaska undetected and returned home to Long Island. Two days after that, he got a TELX message from Exxon, informing him he'd been fired. Headlines across the country said he was a drunk at the helm of the Valdez, and Exxon had let him go. He'd probably never capped on his ship again. And that was the easy part. Next came anonymous collars, making death threats. While threatening to blow up the tidy yellow cape house he shares with his wife and daughter, reporters digging through his trash, stealing his mail, and costing his kid at her high school, asking her for a statement. Reporters, like the ones blocking the courthouse entrance right now. As he steps onto the sidewalk, he's blinded by camera flashes. Hazelwood tugs at the starched white button up shirt that's biting in his neck, and looks down at the concrete that grinds and pops under his new leather shoes. He reminds himself that all the outrage and breathless condemnation is about to end. When it comes to the US justice system, Hazelwood is an idealist. He believes that in a court of law, the truth comes out. There will be no media frenzy inside that courtroom today, just the facts. His lawyers fought to keep the cameras out of the courtroom. Justice is going to be served. The hearing is really just a formality anyway. Hazelwood has already agreed to set bail in a mount that Hazelwood can afford $25,000. But as soon as Hazelwood enters the courtroom, he realizes something's gone wrong. TV cameras are everywhere, audio equipment. State Supreme Court Justice Kenneth K. Roll has overruled Hazelwood's attorney and opened the courtroom to the media. Judge Roll is an avid environmentalist whose chambers are decorated with duck hunting decoys. He's going to make an example of Captain Hazelwood today, and he wants the press to be there to witness it. How does the defendant plead? Not guilty, Your Honor. Prosecutor, go ahead with your recommendation. The county asks that bail be set at $25,000, Your Honor. Judge Roll sits back in his giant black leather chair, shaking his head. He looks down on Hazelwood. I'm a halt at the enormity of the damage that has been inflicted. These are misdemeanors of such magnitude that has never been equaled, at least in this country. This is a level of destruction we've not seen since Hiroshima. Hazelwood is a smart man. He knows what's coming. He's the fault guy. He's going to jail. The judge points at Hazelwood. The stamp of this destruction will be on his mind for as long as he breathes. I'm setting bail at $1 million. The judge knows a ship captain like Hazelwood doesn't make that kind of money. Even borrowing from friends and family, he could never come up with that amount. In the district attorney's shock, Hazelwood is handcuffed and led to a police cruiser, waiting to take him to the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead, New York, where he'll spend the night in a holding cell with 50 other men, many of them accused of murder and armed robbery. His perp walk appears on TV and newspaper front pages across the country, and stories will describe him as the architect of an American tragedy. A man as destructive as an atomic bomb that killed tens of thousands of people. Just as served. Two days later, on April 7, 1989, fishermen Ricky Ott steers for both the Ambergris out of Kordova Harbor. It's been two weeks since the accident, and oil has now spread 150 miles down the Alaskan coastline. And in that time, Exxon has accomplished two things. They've gotten all of their oil off the damaged Exxon Valdez tanker, and they've managed to save the tanker itself. The Valdez now sits hidden from view in a secluded cove undergoing repairs, 35 miles from the side of the wreck. But Ricky and the Kordova fishermen want to know what Exxon is doing about the oil that continues to blacken the sound. They know that Exxon still has skimmer boats out on the water, but so far, they've only collected 500,000 gallons of oil, less than 5% of the 11 million gallons that's built. Now, the fishermen are hearing that Exxon has begun testing a new cleanup technique on the beaches of naked island, and they've sent Ricky out to investigate. As soon as her boat rounds the tip of Hawkins Island and motors into the sound proper, she's stunned by what she finds. A sound she's never heard before in all her years of fishing these waters. Silence. No water splashing, no whales breaching, no seals barking, not even a single bird call. As she approaches McPherson Bay on naked island, Ricky finally hears something, the roar of machinery. She spots a tour boat, anchored offshore, and on a nearby oil beach, the work crew at ferried here from Valdez, 40 workers and bright orange slickers trying to spray oil off the beach with fire hoses. Just offshore, military landing craft hold giant water pumps, noisily churning saltwater into the hoses.<|transcribe|><|transcribe|><|transcribe|><|transcribe|><|transcribe|><|transcribe|><|transcribe|><|transcribe|> The more workers follow after the hoses and wipe at the oil stubbornly sticking to the rocks with bright white white rags. Exxon has surrounded the site with containment boom, a floating fence meant to trap the oil running back into the water, but the muddy oil slips over the boom and out into the sound. Ricky steers your boat in closer, the plume of oily mist hangs over the whole scene, soaking the workers, breathing it, not wearing any masks or protective you know what's worth of oil in the most bizarre earth through you that wants because ya know the lower the majesty for example I at a few days. But virtually every American is familiar with the tragic environmental disaster in Alaskan waters And more than 10 million gallons of oil have been spilled with deadly results for wildlife and hardship for local citizens Later that day Ricky sits in the Union Hall near Cordova Harbor watching President George H. W. Bush Announce something that the fishermen have known since the morning after the spill started Exxon needs help however Exxon's effort standing alone are not enough Yeah, no shit Ricky mutters at the TV She looks around a few other fishermen sit staring at the television shaking their heads They don't trust Bush. He's an oil man He ran for office on a platform that included opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration On the TV Bush tells the press Yes, Exxon's still going to run the cleanup and pay for it but from now on Coast Guard Commandant Paul Yost will be calling the shots As head of the Coast Guard Admiral Yost is responsible for 90,000 employees and a fleet of ships, planes and helicopters Surely he can handle this spill Ricky leans in squinting at the TV for a better view Yost is sitting just off stage to the right of defense secretary Dick Cheney He's a sinewy thin man with a long gone face and cold blue eyes This is the man who's going to make the decisions This is the man who's going to determine the course of the cleanup going forward Yost is arriving in Valdez in six days and he tells Exxon he wants a viable cleanup plan in hand by the time his boots hit the ground One week after the president's announcement Ricky Ott huddles with Jack Lam and fellow fisherman Rick Steiner back at the cramped fisherman's union office in Cordova There are papers everywhere Ricky has to move a stack of filing folders just to have a place to sit Then she gets up pacing trying to avoid the five new phone lines running across the floor in a chaotic tangle The day before Coast Guard Commandant Yost called a press conference to announce his plan for attacking the spill Exxon's work crews will blast the beaches with water Essentially the same strategy Exxon had been testing with one critical modification Instead of cold water they will use hot Admiral Yost is going to steam clean Prince William Sound Everyone in the Union Hall knows that this decision is disastrous for the fisherman It'll set the sound back years and that means years before the fishermen can support themselves again Steam cleaning will kill everything that has survived this bill all the organisms that the food chain needs to restore itself It'll kill the mollusks that the birds feed on it'll kill the sea urchins that the sea otters feed on and the kelp force where otters hide from predators All the oil those high pressure hoses blast off the beaches would run back into the sound where it will poison more fish And based on what Ricky saw a week ago on the sound it's going to poison the cleanup orders too Jack Lam sits at his desk staring down Two days ago Jack made the toughest decision of his life He took Exxon's money $250,000 for the Codoba fisherman and a commitment from Exxon to hire the fisherman to ferry clean up workers and supplies on their boats Starting at $3,500 a day Enough to replace the lost fishing season's income Ricky and Rick watch him waiting What are you going to do Jack? Ricky asks Jack looks up Nothing There's nothing I can't do Not anymore Exxon's paying us now guys The union needs that money and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize it Our members and their families have to come first Jack Lam has chosen to go silent and Ricky ought and Rick Steiner understand why It's a choice every man and woman back home in Codoba is struggling with too Fishermen are lining up to take the only money available right now Clean up money from Exxon the company that destroyed their fishing grounds They hate Exxon They need Exxon Codoba is being torn into If you're into true crime the generation why podcast is essential listening We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders crimes and conspiracy theories together And we'd love for you to join us Generation Y is one of the longest running true crime podcasts out there And we are still at it unraveling a new case every week We break down infamous cases like the evil genius bank robbery and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game We cover every angle breaking down theories diving deep into forensic evidence and interviewing those close to the case And with over 450 episodes There's a little something for every true crime listener Follow the generation why podcast on Amazon music or wherever you listen to podcasts or you can listen ad free by joining plus in the Wondry app On May 2nd three weeks after Admiral Yoast announces his cleanup plan 29 year old Codoba fisherman Devon Ruel wakes up deep in the belly of the USS Juno A Navy troop carrier rented by axon to house cleanup workers It's 6am. He used to love mornings like this waking up on the water in the belly of a fishing boat Devon spent the past decade out here crewing for other fishermen But he dreams of saving up and buying his own fishing boats someday But those dreams are on hold now Fishing boats aren't hiring anymore since the spill has fouled most of the local fishing grounds So today he's one of a thousand men and women from all over the country packed into bunks for high eight to a birth It's so tight that if Devon rolls over he's on top of his neighbor But it could be worse at least he's bunking with a group of guys from Codoba Still the place reeks they haven't been given clean clothes in a week And the stale urine puddling in the bathrooms gives off fumes almost as harsh as the oil out on the beaches. They're blasting Devon is used to life out on the water but not like this Every day axon form and bark and shout orders at Devon and the herd of workers on the beach Where they fire hot water from a high pressure hose onto the oiled rocks When Devon got here axon showed him a video about the importance of wearing respirators during cleanup But they never gave him one or anyone else for that matter So he squins against the billowing clouds of oily steam and blasts away 12 hours a day until the rocks are free of oil dull and gray And each night the tide brings the oil back in So Devon wakes up to a freshly oiled beach every morning Rinse and repeat For four consecutive days he's been attacking a single spot on Smith Island which is frustrating Just two miles east there's a beach filled with oil where the seals are getting ready to birth their pups That's where they should be working But the foreman keep their crews hammering away on this beach because this beach has special strategic importance to axon In two days vice president Dan Quail will arrive to observe the cleanup effort with the national press and toe So crews are working overtime to build a wooden walkway lined with cotton So the vice president doesn't trip and fall on the slippery oiled rocks when he arrives Today as Devon pulls on his rain gear and ready to his hose He sees an exon foreman leading Coast Guard Commandant Paul Yoast around the cleanup area with a gaggle of reporters following them Yoast has a shout over the roar of the hoses and the air compressors He waves and points at a section of beach please with the progress But the exon foreman shakes his head That section hasn't been cleaned yet The clean area is over there and points to a different stretch of beach The reporter's grin amused at the confusion Yoast's scallions and mutters, well anyway you have to admire the effort right Devon points his hose back down at the rocks and blasts away, bracing himself against the recoil He understands the admiral's mistake You can't tell what they've cleaned and what they haven't Still Devon takes it all and stride the money's good after all And at the end of the day he usually makes it into the showers early enough to catch the last of the ship's hot water He feels good to get all that oil off The workers call it their hazelwood tan But then he puts the same filthy clothes back on and climbs into his bunk for the night That's when the fear creeps back in Every night oil drips from his nose as he lies awake in his crowded birth While the guys above and below him snore and cough A small steady stream of black mucus It feels like the spills everywhere now and inside him too It's in these moments he wonders whether the money's worth it And since the admiral in charge of it all can't tell a clean drop from an oiled one Devon starts to wonder what the cleanup is actually for Two days later vice president Dan Coil steps out of a navy landing craft and onto the walkway build for him He shakes hands with a few workers waves to the press He doesn't slip or fall or get any oil on his shoes 15 minutes later he's gone July 24th 1989 is a beautiful breezy summer afternoon in Huntington Long Island It's been four months since the Exxon Valdez ran aground thousands of miles away former Exxon captain Joseph Hazelwood can smell the salt off Long Island sound As he opens his front door and walks out to the curb to get the mail He glances around before he steps outside by instinct The press hasn't bothered him in weeks but Hazelwood's feeling wary The Exxon Valdez is back in the news The ship spent the summer undergoing emergency repairs in a cove off naked island Tucked out a site while thousands of cleanup workers tried to spray its cargo off the beaches of Prince William sound Welleters fixed the holes in her hull with temporary patches Strong enough to make the trip to a shipyard in San Diego, California for permanent repairs But then last week while being towed there the Valdez ruptured again Leaving an 18 mile slick off the coast of southern California Hazelwood has been out on bail for 14 weeks now Ever since a new judge reduced his bail from a million dollars to 25,000 But any happiness he felt on getting out of jail was fleeting On May 23rd a grand jury in Alaska indicted him on three counts of felony mischief Carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison Most of his time is now spent preparing for trial Scheduled to start early next year in Anchorage Until then he's trying to lead as normal life as possible He helps out on a friend's lobs for boat for cash when he can Sometimes he takes his daughter to McDonald's But it's hard with a possible prison sentence hanging over him He opens the mailbox and at the bottom of the stack beneath the bills and flyers is a copy of time magazine On the cover a drawing of a man in a fisherman's cap and a dark beard wearing a scow That man is him The headline reads Fateful voyage what really happened to board the Exxon Valdez Back inside Hazelwood sits down at the kitchen counter opens the magazine and starts to read At the top it says Joe's bad trip But he's surprised to see the time reporter conducted his own investigation of the accident with an objective eye The article mentions Hazelwood's drinking problem But it also says there was no proof he was drunk at the time of the crash Because state troopers waited 10 hours before they tested his blood alcohol level The reporter talked to sources at the Coast Guard who relayed how Hazelwood's handling of the ship after the grounding was exemplary They said he helped keep the ship propped on bly reef and avoided the spill of more oil Most importantly the article highlights how exhausted everyone on board was that night Federal law mandates the crew members get six hours of sleep before departure But Exxon ignored the law saying the company had no policy around rest and the government neither checked on compliance nor enforced the law On the Valdez that night Most crew members had only had 90 minutes of rest in the previous 24 hours Tired people make mistakes And then there was the issue of personnel cuts When Hazelwood was first hired by Exxon a 40 man crew staff ships smaller than the Valdez In 1986 the Valdez itself carried a crew of 33 But by the night of March 23rd 1989 that number had been reduced to 19 to save money Those personnel cuts meant more responsibilities for the captain Responsibilities like the mountain of paperwork he was down in his cabin trying to file on time for Exxon management While an inexperienced third mate was navigating up in the wheelhouse when the ship hit bly reef Finally Hazelwood thinks a major national publication is starting to ask questions not about the captain But about the bureaucracy that managed him He remembers that executive who yelled at him for saving the Exxon Chester from the storm four years ago He didn't care about the safety of Hazelwood or his crew He cared about the bottom line He just wanted the cargo delivered in the fastest most cost effective way possible Hazelwood hopes that guy sees this article reads it all the way through Him and all the other executives up in the Exxon corporate office Because this story is about them It's 3 a.m. on September 14th 1989 and the phone is ringing in Ricky Otz cabin high above Cordova Alaska But it doesn't wake her she's still up she hasn't been sleeping much lately too much anxiety She picks up the phone hello Hello is is this doctor on The man's voice is hushed and Ricky knows what he's gonna say even before he starts The same thing the other collars have been saying all anonymous all quiet like they're scared Doctor hot. I'm worried. Now what's happening to me out on the cleanup? I get these rashes all over And blisters terrible headaches. I feel like I'm gonna throw up all the time And what about your urine? Is it normal? It's black just completely black Yeah, those are red blood cells. You're passing dead blood cells And the other symptoms? Yeah, oh, oh, I've got to go Ricky knows the courage it took for that man to call He signed a contract with a gag clause just like all the other cleanup workers If he's found out he'll lose his job and the money his family needs to survive She looks out the window and sees the lights are still on at the canary down in Cordova far below The fisherman who refused to work for axon have been trying to squeeze a seasons worth of fish out of a tiny unpolluted part of the sound They've come in each evening with their haul and stay up all night at the canary Cleaning and processing the fish for market then they go back out on the water again in the morning They're doing all of this themselves because the canary can't find workers anymore Not while axons paying $16 an hour to clean up the beaches It's made tensions in town unbearable those who take axons money are being shunned They're called exon horrors or spillionaires While the rest of the town finds that standing on principle doesn't pay any bills Drug use and domestic violence are spiking The town's health clinic has been overwhelmed with reports of panic attacks invasive dreams and symptoms of PTSD Pretty soon the cleanup workers are going to feel the pinch too Earlier this week exon's head of Alaska operations Don Cornette announced that the company was winding down its operations before the winter storm started rolling in He sat in front of the press at the Baudi Civic Center with a pile of rocks in front of him The rocks he said were cleaned by exon workers and pulled from the beaches around Prince William's sound Each one an example of a job well done The local reporters squinted to them these rocks didn't look anything like what they used to see along the shore before this bill They look brown Sure, they didn't have oil dripping off of them But they didn't exactly look clean Ricky feels like the cleanup is all spin She's not the only one cleanup workers and fishermen are starting to wonder if the whole thing was just a show Apparently exon agrees with them even a company official later admitted The actual recovery of oil and the money spent had become secondary to the cleanup's public image aspects But Ricky has a plan to help the fishermen to help cordova and the workers out on the sound Ricky wants real systemic change So that something like the exon Valdez oil spill never happens again She knows she can't rely on the fisherman's union anymore for the kind of work she wants to do Jack lambs deal with exon has tied their hands And in June the union agreed to a deal with Aliasca to create a citizens advisory council Which would allow fishermen to work with Aliasca brass to monitor pipeline operations But to Ricky that was just another ruse Aliasca forbade anyone involved in the council from suing oil companies or lobbying legislators or congress So Ricky refused to join Instead she's helped found her own group the oil reform alliance It's time for the people who suffer the consequences of big oil to have a voice She's got fishermen and scientists on board and just enough funding to rent a tiny office near the state capital building in Juno That's why her suitcase sits by the side of her bed packed and ready to go It's got clothes in it some toiletries, but mostly it's packed with papers policy briefs. She's written on oil safety Ricky's going straight to the seat of power to advocate for laws with teeth Real laws that companies like exon can't ignore Ricky carries the suitcase to her front door and looks around her cabin It's been almost five months since the morning of March 24th when Jack lamppounded on her door to tell her the spill had happened But that day feels like a lifetime ago First light is breaking through the trees as Ricky locks up her cabin Then she hoist up her suitcase and starts to hike down through the forest to the road It's going to be a long journey In January of 1990 10 months after the spill Ricky hot climbs the steps of the five story capital building in Juno for the start of the legislative session Outside it's the coldest month of the year, but the greeting she gets from the legislators inside the building is even colder Ricky has come to Juno prepared for immediate action and she expects immediate results She has numerous position papers under her arm carefully vetted and reverted by experts on how to enact real effective oil safety procedures To prevent spills before they happen But government moves slowly especially this far north She testifies it hearings on safety in January, but nothing happens She can't get a meeting with anyone Money talks and Ricky doesn't have any The oil industry on the other hand is a huge lobbying interest in the state and taxes from oil revenues cover roughly 85% of the Alaskan state government's general operating budget Elected officials aren't ready to bite the hand that feeds them But Ricky isn't ready to back down The next month in February a new bill comes before the legislature One calling for an increase in penalties for companies that spill oil and this time Ricky's testimony is going to have an impact Ricky strides up to the lectern in a packed hearing room deep in the capital building The members of the house resources committee stare down at her as she holds up the evidence she wants to show them today a blank sheet of paper Cliff Davidson the committee co chair peers down at her from behind his enormous thick bifocals and what's this dr It's a blank sheet of paper sir See the oil lobbyists are going to testify that you can't raise penalties for oil spills Because it would raise their cost of doing business too much They're going to tell you that their insurance premiums would skyrocket But I'm here to tell you that they are all self insured So that increased cost of doing business would amount to a nickel for this Yes Ricky slams the paper on the lectern One clean piece of paper to write a new insurance policy After Ricky's testimony oil lobbyist Ray Gillespie strides into the chamber to testify next Ray has got a square jaw and perfectly parted salt and pepper hair He looks like an all American quarterback Frankly ladies and gentlemen the oil industry would be crippled by the cost associated with this bill Represented of Davidson watches Ricky from the podium as she shakes her head and disgust Who is this woman he wonders? She's really backed him into a corner with that testimony Elected officials in Alaska aren't supposed to challenge oil men like Gillespie adhering like this But now thanks to Ricky Davidson has no choice He leans into his mic. I still on Ricky Hmm, and why is that mr. Gillespie What are those crippling costs Well the oil companies insurance premiums would skyrocket it finds like this are enacted Uh, and who ensures you Gillespie glares at Davidson. We're self insured sir. I see After the hearing representative Davidson motions for Ricky to follow him into his office Dr. op don't you ever set me up in public like that again Your testimony forced me into a public confrontation with exon. I need to know which questions to ask before you get up there and testify And I need to know the answers. Listen. I'll work with you But behind the scenes there are just too many oil men around here He peeks out the door of his office into the hallway. It's still packed with oil lobbyists leaving the hearing so um Do you mind slipping out the window? Always kind of packed right now Fortunately for Ricky Davidson's got a ground floor office As she slides out the window onto the sidewalk She realizes she's made a new ally and he's shown her a way to operate in oil slicked Juno Back rooms phone calls but never in plain sight Over the next month Ricky becomes familiar with every side entrance back door and fire escape in the capital She finds other representatives like Cliff Davidson Men and women who are willing to hear what she has to say as long as it's in private and they appreciate her policy papers on oil spill preparedness They are full of facts real evidence things that are hard to come by in Juno And her work pays off at the end of the legislative session in Juno governor Steve Cooper signed seven new oil spill related builds into law And in Washington Congress is debating a major bill to impose new regulations on the industry at a federal level The work that started in Ricky's tiny office in Juno is getting attention all over the country On March 22nd 1990 two days before the one year anniversary of the spill Joseph Hazelwood stands behind the defense table in an anchorage Alaska courtroom Watching his jury file back into the courtroom to deliver their verdict His lawyer stands next to him He has a flashy round face and bright wide set eyes He and Hazelwood go way back. They went to maritime college together He rests his hand on his wood shoulder The cavernous courtroom is packed and silent except for the jurors footsteps in the occasional cough It feels like it's taking them forever to sit down Hazelwood's lawyer has successfully argued that the three felony counts of criminal mischief filed against Hazelwood should be folded into one But the captain still faces five years in prison if the jurors find him guilty Five years away from his family his daughter would be in college by the time he got out And of the three misdemeanors he really only cares about one Operating a vessel while intoxicated. He knows he wasn't drunk that night And he wants to hear the jury form and say it The form and stands and notched to the judge your honor on the count of felony second degree criminal mischief We find the defendant not guilty Hazelwood closes his eyes and lowers his head But he can hear his lawyer next to him pounding his fist on the table in celebration But Hazelwood waits the form and continues reckless endangerment not guilty negligent discharge of oil guilty Fine Hazelwood thinks a class B misdemeanor he'll take it but this next one This next one is the one that can really clear his name The form and continues on the count of operating a vessel while intoxicated we find the defendant not guilty Hazelwood opens his eyes smiles he hugs his lawyer then his dad sitting behind him the old man has tears in his eyes Finally his will would thinks it's over Outside the courtroom the press wonders how he feels and for the first time since the exon valdeez ran aground Hazelwood answers their question i'm relieved he says i've had better years Then he walks away The next day the judge sentences Hazelwood to 1,000 hours of community service and a $50,000 fine No jail time Hazelwood returns to Long Island a free man with big plans for the future He wants to be a captain again he wants to get back out on the sea On August 18th 1990 president George H. W. Bush Sitted his desk in the Oval Office staring at a document It's thousands of pages long and stands over a foot high It's the oil pollution act of 1990 a historic comprehensive piece of legislation The bill streamlines and strengthens the federal government's ability to prevent and respond to catastrophic oil spills like the exon valdeez It establishes a trust to fund cleanups paid for by taxes on oil revenue And it imposes stringent new measures on how oil companies store and transport their oil It's a bill that the president never wanted Coming into office he opposed regulating the oil industry and made it part of his campaign platform But the events of 1989 changed his mind And not just the 11 million gallons of oil that spilled into Prince William's sound on March 24th Three months later on June 23rd Tanker called the world prodigy spilled 290,000 gallons off Newport, Rhode Island It's captain was suffering from sleep deprivation and was distracted by paperwork at the time of the accident One day later a ship named the president a Rivera dumped 307,000 gallons of oil in the Delaware River Where officials struggle to obtain proper containment equipment following the crash It was clear that something had to be done that the system has to change The press has assembled around the president's desk cameras flash as he reaches for his pen As he signs the bill he has no idea that several of its passages are based on policy papers written by a fisherman in Cordova, Alaska A woman named Ricky Ott Back in Cordova Ricky is thrilled to read in the morning paper that the bill is becoming law But she doesn't have time to celebrate She's gearing up for one last climactic battle in the fight over the Exxon Baudi's oil spill A legal battle to determine responsibility for this bill once and for all Tens of thousands of plaintiffs hundreds of attorneys Over five million pages of testimony and briefs and one defendant the Exxon Corporation From Wondry this is episode three of five of Exxon Baudi's for American scandal On the next episode the fishermen take on Exxon in the largest class action lawsuit in US history And the fight will take Ricky Ott all the way to the United States Supreme Court If you'd like to learn more about the Exxon Baudi's spill we recommend the books not one drop by Ricky Ott and out of the channel by John Kevel This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details and while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said All of our dramatizations are based on historical research American scandal is hosted edited sound designed and executive produced by me Lindsey Grandford airship Additional production assistance by Derek Barons this episode is written by Benjamin Gray edited by Andrew Stelser Exxon to producers are Stephanie Jen's Marshal Louis and her nonlop has for Wondry