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March 23rd, 2009
08:22 PM ET

Lasting legacy of the Exxon Valdez

Twenty years on, the iconic oil spill remains an expensive ecological disaster.

Nature News
Naomi Lubick

When people think of big oil spills, they think of the Exxon Valdez. Twenty years ago, the oil tanker spilled its load off the coast of Alaska, and images of oil-slicked birds hit the news at a time when environmental awareness was quickly rising in the United States.

The accident became a lightening rod for green groups and lawmakers, but has also prompted hundreds of scientific studies looking at the implications of the disaster on local people, the ecosystem, remediation practices and oil spill response. Nature takes a look back at the disaster, and finds out what the situation is today.

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Filed under: Environmental issues • Oil
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Sherry, N. Calif.

    It seems ironic that someone would remember the Exxon Atrocity. I am wearing my Exxon Sucks shirt as I write this. I wear it to the gym and of course I get compliments and thumbs up. I lived in Alaska from 1978-03. Glad you remind people of this catastrophic event amid what we are faced with today in the love affair of Wall St. and our Government. Thank you for bringing attention to what is left afterwards. The lives it detroyed can never be replaced. People moved on and lost even in the end in 2008. Exxon made their highest profit in history last year and repaid the owners (U.S.) a piece meal. So sad. We help the gamblers on Wall St. and AIG for it's destruuction of our economic system with trillions but never our own people or wilderness areas. The Prince William Sound is still beautiful. I am glad I will never lose that memory. As American as I am, I am questioning our values that our Government and the wealthy have in regards to keeping "U.S." a healthy and growing nation 😦

    March 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Unfortunately spills from oil tankers are not the only spills we have to contend with that harm ecological systems and kill wildlife. Coal fired electric plants have pools of coal ash from the processing of the coal that is put in ponds dammed with dirt – -these dams can give way especially under high rainfall conditions and do as much damage as an oil spill. One happened just this last December in Kingston TN that TVA is still cleaning up and measuring the impact from. The same sort of thing also occurs from mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachian mountains – coal slurry ponds damned up that could break at any moment and wipe out whole communities – some of these have elementary schools directly in their path. The repercussions from spills such as these last far longer than the time it takes to clean them up; we need to convert to cleaner energy and find ways to dispose of the coal ash and slurry already in existence so no more habitats can be destroyed.

    March 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm |