Friday, March 06, 2009

Small Press Story #6: Exxon Valdez skipper says he’s sorry

A new release from Epicenter Press, The Spill: Personal Stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster, is creating some news in Alaska because one of its interviews contains an all-out apology to Alaskans from Capt. Joe Hazelwood, who commanded the oil tanker that went aground in Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound twenty years this month, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil.

In the new book, sixty-two men and women share personal stories in their own words describing what they saw, how they reacted, and how they coped with North America’s worst tanker spill. Reliving their experiences were fishermen, Alaska Native villagers, biologists, environmentalists, sociologists, Exxon executives, the governor, mayors, journalists, workers who washed oil rocks—even Hazelwood.

“I was the captain of a ship that ran aground and caused a horrendous amount of damage,” Hazelwood told co-author Sharon Bushell. “I can’t escape responsibility, nor do I want to. I would like to offer an apology, a heartfelt apology to the people of Alaska for the damage caused by the grounding of a ship that I was in command of.”

The book and Hazelwood’s apology were the subject of a front-page lead story in the Anchorage Daily News on March 5.

Other first-person accounts tell of a shockingly slow response, the struggle to save the stricken tanker, the often heroic but largely futile efforts to limit the spread of oil and clean the beaches, a heart-breaking loss of fish and wildlife, and a loss of innocence among Alaskans who believed this spill never would happen.

Epicenter Press printed an initial press run of 5,000 copies of The Spill in a trade paperback original with a list price of $17.95. Among its 288 pages are 18 pages of color photos and an elaborate two-page map. Epicenter is a regional trade publisher based in Fairbanks, Alaska and Kenmore, Washington specializing in nonfiction titles about Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

For more information, visit or contact Kent Sturgis at