The cleaning of Alaskan shores is progressing well three months after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, but additional manpower and double shifts may be needed, Coast Guard Commandant Paul A. Yost told Congress on Monday.
“The beaches are not going to be crystal pure at the end of this summer,” Yost said in testifying on the $3.47-billion budget for fiscal year 1990 that the Bush Administration has proposed for the Coast Guard. Yost was in Alaska inspecting the cleanup effort earlier this month.
He told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that some oil has seeped two to three feet deep into the cobble and gravel along the shore and it could take five to seven years for nature to erase the damage.
Yost said that Exxon is spending $100 million a week on the cleanup.
“It’s progressing well,” he said, but added that it was slow going on beaches outside Prince William Sound.
The tanker ran aground on a reef in the sound March 24 and lost 11 million gallons of crude oil. The ship’s captain, Joseph Hazelwood, is facing charges in connection with the accident.
Yost said that Exxon has promised to complete the cleanup by the end of the summer. He said if the company lags behind the schedule, he would call for additional manpower and longer working hours.
Yost said the Administration’s budget request, except for $244 million for a new icebreaker, amounts to a 3.6% increase over fiscal 1989 appropriations.