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Arctic governments and industry still unprepared for oil spills 20 years after Exxon Valdez
Date:3/19/2009

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 today 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 Arct
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Contact: Steve Ertel
steve.ertel@wwfus.org
202-495-4562
World Wildlife Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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