The date March 24, 1989 remains a black mark in the minds of environmentalists and coastal communities as they witnessed a massive oil slick unfurl in the waters of Alaska's Prince William Sound.
The Exxon Valdez disaster was one of history's worst oil spills, and twenty-four years later, a B.C. First Nations group is pointing to the tragedy as proof the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project should not go forward.
The province's waters are no place for massive tankers exporting oil to Asian markets, according to the executive director of Coastal First Nations, Art Sterritt.
"All of the social, environmental and economic impacts ... are not something that Coast First Nations are about to allow happen to us. We just couldn't survive that," Sterritt said.
Sterritt launched a new social media and television advertising campaign on Sunday, to commemorate the Exxon Valdez spill and provide "an alternative" to pro-pipeline ads by Enbridge, the company behind the hotly-contested project.
"We thought showing people a little bit of reality would be appropriate," Sterritt said. "We think that there might be some people ... becoming a bit numbed by Northern Gateway's $300-million campaign."
Enbridge launched its own multi-million dollar media and online advertising campaign last May, to sell the public on the economic benefits of the pipeline and the company's safety and oil-spill prevention procedures. According to Northern Gateway manager Paul Stanway, the company spent less than $5 million to promote the pipeline, which would ship petroleum from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C.
Sterritt refused to disclose how much his group spent on the new ad, but said it will likely be confined to inexpensive northern TV networks and free social media websites unless his group receives additional funding from outside sources.
The two-minute commercial begins with live audio that chronicles the conversation between the oil tanker's crew and the Valdez Vessel Traffic Centre during the harrowing first minutes when the ship ran aground on Bligh Reef.