The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the United States. Compounding the problem was the fact that it occurred in one of the most rich and sensitive wildlife refuges in the world.
The 10.8 million barrels of crude oil that spilled out of the grounded ship covered an area roughly 10,000 square miles and contaminated 1,300 miles of coastline. The spill was devastating to wildlife. In total 1,800 sea otters, 250 bald eagles and 22 orcas were killed by the spill.
Despite a cost of 2 billion dollars, that cleanup effort was unable to remove the vast majority of the oil spilled. Greenpeace estimates that only 7 percent of the oil was removed from the site.
While we now have better regulations and better tanker designs, given the huge volume of oil that is transported on the high seas, more oil spills are a statistical certainty.
© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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