Years Before Exxon Valdez, Documents Show Exxon’s Imperial Oil Prioritized Public Image Over Spill Impacts

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Imperial Oil Esso holding tanks
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On February 4, 1970, the oil tanker SS Arrow was carrying a cargo of heavy bunker oil for Imperial Oil Limited when it encountered rough weather off the east coast of Canada. The ship’s captain had not sailed this route before and reportedly had no navigational charts. The ship itself had known problems with its navigation system. When the radar warned the crew of trouble ahead, the warning was ignored. The ship promptly ran aground on a well-known hazard, Cerberus Rock, ultimately LINK  of oil, which coated 190 miles of shoreline.

Nearly two decades before the Exxon Valdez catastrophe in Alaska, the Arrow oil spill became a public relations black eye for Imperial Oil, a Canadian subsidiary of Exxon, and LINK  by DeSmog and the LINK   reveal that the company viewed the environmental disaster more in the context of improving its public image than improving safety measures that would reduce these types of environmental risks.

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