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Exxon Plans to Hire 4,000 to Clean Shores

From Associated Press

Exxon will hire 4,000 people to scrub 305 miles of shoreline fouled by America’s worst oil spill and says the job can be finished by the third week in August, according to a plan obtained Monday.

The cleanup can be be completed by August if a “steam-cleaning” method is used aggressively, or by mid-September if environmentally safer methods play a larger role, says the plan obtained by Associated Press.

Those projections were disputed by a state environmentalist, who said after reviewing the plan that only about 150 miles could be cleaned before winter.

The plan estimates that by June 1 the company will have 2,500 Alaskans working on the shoreline, with 1,500 other people in support roles. It says 11 barges, 28 landing vessels, 150 utility ships and six wash-vacuum ships will be used.

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Estimates of Spill’s Severity

The total affected shoreline from the March 24 Exxon Valdez wreck in Prince William Sound is 366 miles, says the plan, which proposes to clean 305 miles. It estimates that 54 of the miles to be cleaned are heavily oiled, 86 moderately oiled and 165 lightly oiled.

The plan assumes that needed permits will be promptly issued and that no additional oil will wash ashore.

Steve Haavig of the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the plan estimates that crews would be able to scrape and spray greasy black sludge from only about one mile of beach per day.

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“A mile a day is optimistic,” Haavig said.

At most, there are 150 days from the time workers and gear are mobilized, two or three weeks from now, until winter descends in September.

Haavig said crews might make good time on lightly oiled beaches, but the more heavily polluted stretches will slow them.

Asked for comment, Exxon spokesman Dennis Stanczuk said the company wanted to confer first with the Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Paul Yost, who was sent by President Bush to hasten the cleanup.

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