The Exxon Valdez oil spill is still wreaking havoc on Prince William Sound 20 years later, and an increased push for drilling in Alaska has conservationists and fisherman girding for a repeat, Yale Environment 360 reports. The decimation of the sound’s herring population has affected everything from seabirds to killer whales. But the legacy of the Valdez isn’t all bad.
The disaster led to much-improved response times and the development of double-hulled tanker ships. But Exxon’s claims that “there has been no long-term damage caused by the spilled oil” continue to irk locals, particularly after the oil company won a case limiting punitive damages. And safer doesn’t mean totally safe. “As long as we are going to be using this stuff we are going to be spilling it,” a marine biologist said. “It goes with the territory.”