A longtime Alaska activist asked a federal judge this week to force Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay millions requested by state and federal governments four years ago to remove oil that persists on beaches from the company's 1989 tanker spill in Prince William Sound.
The governments say the oil is degrading too slowly and continues to harm wildlife. However, since filing their joint $92 million claim in 2006, they haven't taken further steps to collect the cleanup money from Exxon.
"The story here is the mess and the lack of action," said the activist, Rick Steiner, who filed his court motion as an interested party to the governments' original legal settlement with Exxon in 1991. The governments' $900 million settlement reached 19 years ago was for resource damages caused by the massive spill, which killed thousands of birds and otters and hundreds of seals, eagles and other marine mammals.
This week, federal District Court Judge Russel Holland added Steiner as a party to the case. Steiner helped organize Alaska fishermen's emergency response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and has worked for decades with citizen groups monitoring the oil industry.
The state and federal government have not responded yet to Steiner's motion. An Exxon spokeswoman said Thursday that it has "no merit."
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