ANCHORAGE — Nine years after his conviction for illegally spilling oil in pristine Alaska waters, Capt. Joseph Hazelwood started his punishment Monday on the litter patrol.
Hazelwood, former skipper of the tanker Exxon Valdez, spent the day loading a truck with abandoned auto parts and assorted junk thrown along the roadsides of Anchorage. He worked with one other man and a supervisor.
The work was the beginning of his month in Alaska doing litter patrol and other cleanup tasks as punishment for his 1990 state conviction for his part in the nation's largest oil spill.
"He'll be doing different things each day," said Fred Fulgencio, who heads Anchorage's community work service program. "Tomorrow he could be cleaning parks."
This will be the first of five summers Hazelwood will spend laboring in Alaska.
His sentence calls for 1,000 hours of community work, broken out as 200 hours each year.
An Anchorage jury found Hazelwood guilty of negligently discharging oil in the waters of Prince William Sound in March 1989, when the Exxon Valdez drove up onto a charted reef.
An estimated 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the sound, coating 1,000 miles of shoreline and killing tens of thousands of birds and marine mammals.
Hazelwood was acquitted of several misdemeanors, including operating a tanker while intoxicated, and one felony count of second-degree criminal mischief, but found guilty of spilling oil.
The judge who sentenced Hazelwood said his community service should include scrubbing rocks oiled by the Exxon Valdez, but beach cleanup efforts wrapped up years ago.
The sentence had remained on hold during more than eight years of appeals.
Hazelwood showed up early Monday morning at the Anchorage work service office.
But he didn't return to the office with the other workers in the afternoon. Instead, he caught a ride with his lawyer.
Hazelwood, who lives in New York, was unavailable to comment.