Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arctic Governments And Industry Still Unprepared For Oil Spills 20 Years After Exxon Valdez

Date:
March 19, 2009
Source:
World Wildlife Fund
Summary:
Two decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated Alaska's coast, governments and industry in the Arctic would be unable to manage a large oil spill, according to a new report by World Wildlife Fund. WWF renewed its call for a time-out on new offshore oil development in the Arctic until technologies improve to ensure adequate clean-up of an oil spill and called on President Obama to permanently protect Alaska's fish-rich Bristol Bay from drilling.

Two decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated a vast stretch of the Alaskan coast, governments and industry in the Arctic would be unable to effectively manage a large oil spill, according to a new report by World Wildlife Fund.

As the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill approaches on March 24, WWF renewed its call for a time-out on new offshore oil development in the Arctic until technologies improve to ensure adequate clean-up of an oil spill. WWF is also calling on the Obama Administration to permanently protect Alaska's fish-rich Bristol Bay from drilling.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska was one of the world's worst ecological disasters. A WWF report released March 19 demonstrates how the Arctic remains ill-prepared should another spill occur. The report, "Lessons Not Learned," finds that while practices have improved in Prince William Sound, oil spill response capabilities throughout Arctic region have improved little in the past 20 years.

To mark the Exxon Valdez anniversary, WWF will showcase rocks collected from Prince William Sound beaches that are still coated in oil. Additionally, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday examining the future of offshore oil development in U.S. waters.

"While new regulations are in place regarding response to oil spill disasters in the last 20 years, the Arctic itself has changed considerably and is much more vulnerable today," said Bill Eichbaum, WWF's vice president for marine and arctic policy. "Sea ice is disappearing and open water seasons are lasting longer, creating a frenzy to stake claims on the Arctic's rich resources – especially oil and gas development. Oil spills can be devastating to Arctic marine environments given the current lack of oil spill response capabilities. We need a 'time-out' until protections are in place for this fragile, extraordinary place."

WWF, which has the world's largest Arctic conservation program, also recommends that the most vulnerable and important areas of the Arctic be deemed permanently off-limits to oil and gas development. Such "no-go zones" should be based on the sensitivity and productivity of special priority areas, where oil spill response would be virtually impossible to clean up or where any spill would cause irreparable long-term damage. These areas include Bristol Bay in the southeastern Bering Sea in Alaska, known as "America's fish basket," where more than 40 percent of all wild seafood is caught in the United States. Oil and gas development in the bay is estimated to bring in $7.7 billion over the 25-40 year lifetime experts predict it would take to extract the resources. By comparison, the renewable fisheries of the Bristol Bay region are valued at $50-$80 billion over that same time period.

"Fishermen's livelihoods are at stake," said Keith Colburn, a Bristol Bay crab fisherman featured on Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. "Loss of the Bristol Bay fisheries would put thousands of fishermen out of work and break down the engine of a fishery that brings in $2.2 billion to the economy each year. It's not worth the risk."

WWF is urging Arctic countries to conduct comprehensive risk assessments of industrial activities, such as shipping and petroleum development, along with climate change-induced impacts on the marine environment. In addition, Arctic countries should also adopt a region-wide comprehensive agreement for spill response and launch conservation plans that assess the health, biodiversity and functioning of Arctic ecosystems.

"The Exxon Valdez spill has been the best-studied oil spill in history and scientists have found that even 20 years later, the damage from the spill continues," said Margaret Williams, managing director of WWF's Alaska program. "Fishermen's livelihoods were destroyed, many wildlife and fish populations still haven't recovered and the Alaskan economy lost billions of dollars. We can't let that happen again in Alaska's productive waters."

The full report, "Lessons Not Learned: 20 Years after the Exxon Valdez Disaster, Little has Changed in How We Respond to Oil Spills in the Arctic," can be downloaded at http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/howwedoit/policy/WWFBinaryitem11907.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Wildlife Fund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

World Wildlife Fund. "Arctic Governments And Industry Still Unprepared For Oil Spills 20 Years After Exxon Valdez." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319102309.htm>.
World Wildlife Fund. (2009, March 19). Arctic Governments And Industry Still Unprepared For Oil Spills 20 Years After Exxon Valdez. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319102309.htm
World Wildlife Fund. "Arctic Governments And Industry Still Unprepared For Oil Spills 20 Years After Exxon Valdez." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319102309.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins