Kodiak, home of the largest fishing fleet affected by the Exxon Valdez spill,
fishermen and others are reacting with disappointment to yesterday’s news from the
Supreme Court. Many were counting on a higher award to help them pay for things
like retirement and upgrading their boats. KMXT’s Casey Kelly has more.
Kuczek is getting ready for another Kodiak salmon season aboard his boat, the
Sandra Jean. A 30-year veteran of various fisheries around the island, Kuczek
says the summer of 1988—a year before Exxon Valdez—was one of the best his
family’s small fishing operation had seen.
1 :07s “…we
all know what happened.”)
What happened was,
there was no salmon fishery for the island that summer. When it reopened in
1990, Kuczek says prices that fishermen received for their catch were down, and
stayed down for years to come. But he says the emotional toll has been just as
hard to deal with as the financial one.
(Kuczek 2 :09s “…deeper
than on the surface.”)
Kuczek says if
plaintiffs had received the original 5-billion dollar jury award, or even the
reduced 2.5 billion dollar settlement, he probably would have used his share to
pay for a new boat. Now he’ll look at making upgrades to the one he has, and he
wonders how companies like Exxon will be deterred from creating disasters like
the Valdez spill.
(Kuczek 3 :14s “…not
hurting by any means.”)
Kodiak fisherman, Oliver Holm, agrees.
(Holm 1 :18s “…untouchable
by ordinary citizens.”)
Holm says he’s not
sure what he’ll do with his share of the settlement. The case has dragged on
for so long without resolution that he’s mostly just glad now that it’s finally
(Holm 2 :11s “…done
too much planning.”)
Borough Mayor Jerome Selby says it might be a good idea for plaintiffs to start
thinking about how they’ll spend their settlement checks, even if the amount
isn’t what they had hoped.
(Selby 1 :14s “…relieved
that the thing is done.”)
The borough and
the City of Kodiak were also party to the class action lawsuit against Exxon.
Like the rest of the plaintiffs, Selby says local governments will be looking
forward to finding out how much money will be coming in when the final
settlement amounts are announced.
In Kodiak, I’m