Workers try to remove some of the 11 million gallons of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez off Alaska in 1989. The ship's third mate may have been up for 18 hours before the accident. Rob Stapleton/AP hide caption itoggle caption Rob Stapleton/AP Shots - Health News Short On Sleep? You Could Be A Disaster Waiting To Happen May 12, 2015 Megadisasters like Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill were set off by people who were sleep-deprived. Researchers say they're able to pinpoint how lack of sleep derails decision-making.