24 March 2011 On Exxon Valdez Anniversary, New Oil Spills Poison Waters and Wildlife Posted by: Caitlin Leutwiler | 1 comment | Share: Exxon Valdez spews oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound It’s been 22 years since the world watched one of the worst environmental disasters of our time unfold in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. But the tragedy still isn’t over - tens of thousands of gallons of oil from that disaster still linger just below the surface of Prince William Sound’s beaches. And in a cruel twist of irony, just this week two more oil crises have occurred, in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic Ocean. In the Gulf, efforts to permanently plug a hurricane-damaged well resulted in the release of crude oil into Gulf waters for several hours. The Coast Guard is now investigating reports of a five-mile oil slick off of Lousiana’s Grand Isle. In the South Atlantic, more than 800 tons of fuel oil has leaked from a freighter that ran aground on Nightingale Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. The most remote inhabited island group in the world (1,700 miles from South Africa), the archipelago teems with biodiversity. About 200,000 penguins call the islands home, including nearly half of the world’s population of the endangered northern rockhopper penguins. New York Times reports that 20,000 penguins have already been oiled. “Drilling in the Arctic puts a pristine marine environment at risk of long-term, and even permanent, damage. Unless we use the tragic lessons of past oil spill disasters to inform our policy decisions going forward, we will see the same tragedy played out on a different stage.” These spills join the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico last year and last month’s spill in Norway’s Arctic waters. But despite this disastrous track record, the oil industry is pushing to drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters without the technology or know-how to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic’s extreme, icy conditions. Keep drilling out of Alaska's Beaufort Sea (Photo courtesy of NOAA) Defenders’ Richard Charter said, “Toxic oil continues to poison the rocky beaches of Prince William Sound 22 years after the Valdez spill. In Arctic waters, where cleanup technology doesn’t even exist yet, recovering from a similar disaster could take a century. Drilling in the Arctic puts a pristine marine environment at risk of long-term, and even permanent, damage. Unless we use the tragic lessons of past oil spill disasters to inform our policy decisions going forward, we will see the same tragedy played out on a different stage.” What can YOU do? You can help protect the fragile ecosystem off of Alaska’s coasts by calling Interior Secretary Ken Salazar TODAY to demand that he reject bad drilling plans and ensure that America’s Arctic Ocean is not sacrificed to line the pockets of Big Oil. Learn more about how Defenders is working to protect America’s coasts and wildlife from the dangers of offshore drilling. One Response to “On Exxon Valdez Anniversary, New Oil Spills Poison Waters and Wildlife” Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in California prepares to welcome wolves home, but delays on providing state protections Now, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves throughout most of the rest of the country, gray wolves are once again at risk. Delisting would short-circuit wolf recovery in the Pacific West and would effectively mean giving up on one of our country’s most important and iconic species. Fortunately, California has an opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping the gray wolf continue to recover in the coming months and years. I Was There It was a bitterly cold winter morning when the convoy departed down the remote Forest Service road near Salmon, Idaho. Decades after scientists first called for the restoration of wolves in the region, the first four wolves arrived in Idaho on January 14, 1995, thanks to the Endangered Species Act… Victory for Wild Bison in Montana! In a decision that the uninitiated would argue is a painful exercise in stating the obvious, a Montana court last week determined that the wild bison of Yellowstone, an animal that has roamed the continent for millennia, are indeed wild animals.