a film by Ruedi Gerber, documentary, 52 min, US/England 1991

After the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster in 1989, Exxon Corporation spent over $1.5 billion on cleaning up the ecosystem in Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska – as well as the company's tarnished reputation. In the widespread media coverage of the damage to the environment and to Exxon’s repute, however, the fate of the people in the city of Valdez itself was overlooked: among other things, the huge amount of money Exxon invested in the clean-up gave rise to tensions within the formerly peaceful local community. Within just a year after the disaster, the population of Valdez tripled and the standard weekly wage for unskilled workers shot up to $1600. Skyrocketing property prices forced many long-time residents to leave their homes, while fishermen charged up to $500,000 rent for their boats. The local salmon cannery went bust, the smokehouses were deserted and the dead fish rotted away.

In LIVING WITH THE SPILL, locals talk about the disaster’s impact on their lives long after Exxon left the area.

TV-Release worldwide 1991
Visions du Réel, Nyon 1991
"Qualitätsprämie" by Swiss Federal Office of Culture 1991

cast & crew
Director: Ruedi Gerber
Producer: Channel 4, Ruedi Gerber
Narrator: Jean Snedegar
Music: Rory McFarlaine, Mark Russell
Camera: Christian P. Hoagland
Line Producer: Sue Berrisford
Executive Producer: Kathy O’Neil
Associate Producer: Adam Bullmore

additional information
Video Rating Guide for Libraries: "4 Stars - Highly Recommended: A graphic example of American greed, incompetence, insensitivity, and superficiality, this documentary is a hard-hitting sociological study of [the Exxon Valdez] disaster. It should generate good discussion in courses that address economics, the environment, government, and citizenship."