Coast Guard

Millions in Federal Costs May Not Be Recovered From Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Gao ID: RCED-91-68 March 5, 1991

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, focusing on: (1) the total spill-related costs reported as of June 30, 1990; (2) the extent of the oil carrier company's reimbursement to the government for spill-related costs through September 30, 1990; and (3) improvements needed in the reimbursement process in the event of future spills.

GAO found that: (1) the federal government, as of June 30, 1990, spent almost $154 million on the spill, for which the carrier reimbursed it or was processing reimbursement of $123 million; (2) through June 30, 1990, 10 federal agencies reported spending $116.9 million for removal, $22.6 million for damage assessment, and $14.2 million for other spill-related costs; (3) 4 of those agencies accounted for 87 percent of total costs incurred, and the Department of Defense accounted for $62.2 million, the largest portion; (4) as of September 30, 1990, the oil carrier company reimbursed the federal government for $116.1 million of the $153.7 million agencies reported they spent on the spill; (5) the Coast Guard's spill coordinator did not authorize for reimbursement a number of the agencies' activities, since it did not believe that they were related to oil removal; (6) several agencies lost opportunities to obtain reimbursement from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund because of problems in tracking and billing their spill-related costs completely and accurately; (7) agencies estimated that future cleanup activities would require at least another $26 million; and (8) the Department of Justice was considering civil litigation against the oil carrier company to recover damage assessment and restoration costs.


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