A stunned nation watched in horror as news unfolded that the Exxon Valdez oil tanker had unleashed over one million barrels of crude oil in the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. Little was ever known about what really took place in the lives of the workers who were hired to wash the beaches. They overcame a myriad of obstacles; natural, political, and sexual on a daily basis, to complete a 12-16 hour work day on the beach. This incident will always be regarded as the most devastating and controversial oil spill in history, and yet there has never been any information printed about what really took place on the beaches.
Alaskans united with other Americans in the battle to clean the oil from the once tranquil Alaskan coast. Some witnessed the devastating condition and departed with sadness in their heart that would not allow them to continue the job. The sight of dying wildlife was too great for them to overcome. Others tried to complete their assigned tasks, but were defeated by cold, foul weather, certain family situations or health conditions. It was a dirty, hard, thankless task, completed by a rotating work force who kept the job sites occupied all summer.
This book was written from my perspective while employed during the historic oil spill cleanup. My position as a female General Foreman on the berthing (housing) barges, which included a five-hundred-person derrick barge, enabled me to have working relationships with supervisors, beach crews and have exposure to all facets of the entire cleanup operation.
Each chapter combines my unusual personal experiences with a wide gamut of emotions as I found myself in a demanding environment faced with challenging political and sexual situations. The long hours, hard labor, hazardous conditions combined with outside influences were almost unbearable for the workers. This story is a fascinating real-life adventure that raises compelling questions which cannot be ignored.
Exxon offices broke new ground by communicating with all parts of the world searching for immediate answers concerning oil spill recovery techniques. Beach workers wore unfamiliar, bulky gear, balanced their oily boots on slippery rocks and were up to their necks in crude oil. They draped large hoses across their shoulders and cold water gushed from the ends onto the rocks below. Working 10-16 hours a day; there was only enough time at the end of the day to take a quick shower, eat and sleep until the 4:00 a.m. wake up call, and then they would face another day on the rocks. A deadly enemy never before encountered in this magnitude anywhere in the States had attacked PWS, and somehow an inexperienced army with inadequate weapons, was expected to rectify the inescapable invasion.