Living with the Spill


After the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon Corporation spent more than $1.5 billion in its massive campaign to restore the ecosystem of Alaska’s Prince William Sound—as well as its own tarnished name. But behind the amply chronicled environmental and public relations catastrophe, the story of human misfortune in Valdez has been overlooked: the infusion of enormous amounts of Exxon money tore the fabric of the once peaceful community apart. Within a year after the spill, Valdez’ population tripled as the standard weekly wage for unskilled labor rose to $1600. Soaring property prices drove many long-time residents from their homes, while fishermen rented their boats for as much as $500,000. But the salmon cannery closed, and the smoke houses stood empty, while oil contaminated catches of fish were left to rot.

In Living with the Spill, the people explain the impact of the spill on their lives, presenting the wider political as well as the ecological issues, which surrounded the disaster.

Living with the Spill, exposes the dichotomy between Exxon’s elaborate publicity of its clean up operation and the actual effectiveness, giving voice to the people most affected by a tragedy, and the community that lives with the effects of the spill long after Exxon left. (52 minutes)


  • Producer and Director: Ruedi Gerber
  • Narrator: Jean Snedegar
  • Music: Rory McFarlaine, Mark Russell
  • Director of Photography: Christian P. Hoagland
  • Sound Editor and Additional Camera: Emmanuel Fuentebella
  • Production Manager: Sue Berrisford
  • Executive Producer: Kathy O’Neil
  • Associate Producer: Adam Bullmore

Awards & Reviews

Voted one of the top 50 anti-corporated films

The definite list

"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." - Video Rating Guide for Libraries

“This well-produced video intriguingly explores another facet of the infamous oil tanker accident.” – Booklist

“The anatomy of a grave tragedy and its consequences.” – Landers Film & Video Reviews