Monitoring shows populations have returned to pre-spill numbers
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — It took almost quarter of a century, but federal scientists say that sea otters have recovered to pre-spill population numbers in the most heavily oiled areas of Prince William Sound, where the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, spilling tens of millions of gallons of oil.
“Although recovery timelines varied widely among species, our work shows that recovery of species vulnerable to long-term effects of oil spills can take decades,” said lead author of the study, Brenda Ballachey, research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “For sea otters, we began to see signs of recovery in the years leading up to 2009, two decades after the spill, and the most recent results from 2011 to 2013 are consistent with recovery as defined by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.”
Glaciers and rainforests meet near Alaskan harbor town
Story and photos by Kim Fenske
Valdez is best best known for an oil tanker disaster in 1989, when the ship’s hull was ripped open and subsequently flooded Prince William Sound with 11 million gallons of crude oil that covered an area extending 470 miles to the southwest. However, the port of Valdez today is a biologically vibrant and beautiful part of the coastal rainforest that extends along the Alaskan coastal region.
Bus transportation is available from downtown Anchorage to Whittier, where ferry service delivers visitors to Valdez. I chose to drive the 265 miles across Alaska from Palmer, through the Matanuska River Valley, in order to pass Matanuska Glacier and explore Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Along the way, I camped beside Squirrel Creek, a river filled with fast-running, opaque, silt-filled glacial water. Next day, I dropped from a glacier-covered pass to the coastline at Valdez.
ExxonMobil tries to avoid paying for new remediation efforts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal scientists say oil from the Exxon Valdez spill more than 20 years ago is still affecting coastal ecosystems in Alaska and requires more restoration efforts — But Exxon (now ExxonMobil) attorneys are asking a federal court to release the company from any additional financial liability for the spill.
According to recent documents filed with U.S. District Court in Alaska, some of the oil that gushed from the busted tanker is degrading more slowly than anticipated and remains as a toxic exposure threat to to sea otters, harlequin ducks and other animals using intertidal habitats.
According to the latest court filings, discovery of the oil raises several questions that must be addressed before finalizing the details of a restoration plan, including the location and extent of the oil, factors limiting natural degradation and a quest for new technologies to accelerate the degradation and dispersal of the residue. Continue reading “Oil from Exxon Valdez spill still an environmental threat”→