The Exxon and BP oil spills: a comparison of psychosocial impacts

Duane Gill, Liesel Ritchie, J. Steven Picou, Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Michael Long, Jessica Shenesey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


We address the research question: ‘Did the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill have similar psychosocial impacts as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill?’ We answer this question by comparing survey results from a random sample of Cordova, Alaska, residents collected 18 months after the Exxon spill with a random sample of residents in the Alabama coastal counties of Baldwin and south Mobile 1 year after the BP disaster. Analysis revealed similarly high levels of psychological stress for survivors of both disasters. For residents of coastal Alabama, the strongest predictors of psychosocial stress were exposure to oil, ties to renewable resources, concerns about their economic future, worries about air quality, and safety issues regarding seafood harvests in oiled areas. Differences between south Mobile and Baldwin counties were related to the former community’s economic ties to renewable resources and Baldwin County’s dependence on tourism for economic sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1911-1932
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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