2007 Flashback: “18 years on, Exxon Valdez oil still pours into Alaskan waters… ecosystem is struggling to recover”

18 years on, Exxon Valdez oil still pours into Alaskan waters, The Guardian, February 2, 2007:

Crude oil is still polluting Alaskan waters almost 18 years after the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground, according to a study by US government scientists to be published in two weeks. …  Researchers say it is declining at a rate of only 4% a year and even slower in the Gulf of Alaska. …

Predictions that the pollution would have disappeared by now have proved to be inaccurate, and the damaged ecosystem is struggling to recover. The lingering oil, lying below the surface, affects wildlife and the general environment, and “degrades the wilderness character” of protected lands, the report says.

[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study to be published in the ‘Environmental Science and Technology journal’]

The scientists conclude: “Such persistence can pose a contact hazard to inter-tidally foraging sea otters, sea ducks, and shore birds, create a chronic source of low-level contamination, discourage subsistence in a region where use is heavy, and degrade the wilderness character of protected lands.” … The slow rate of dispersal means the oil could persist for decades more below the surface near some beaches.


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