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Exxon Valdez oil spill

May 6, 2010 — It's been over 20 years since the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, yet oil is still just a few inches below the surface.

Sound familiar? The current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is being compared to the Exxon Valdez disaster from 1989. The situation now, isn't quite as environmentally devastating, but it's well on its way.

And it's reminding Alaskans of an all too familiar story. Places along Prince William Sound are still reliving the scene from over 20 years ago. Back on March 24, 1989 an oil tanker dumped 11 million gallons into the ocean. Contamination from the spill spread 1,500 miles down the coastline. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, whales and seals were killed as a result.

Although the spill was contained just a few days after, residents and the environment are still feeling the affects. And even still seeing the oil. It isn't obvious from above or up close, but all one has to do is dig a few inches down. You can still see the metallic swirl when rocks are flipped over in the water as well.

RJ Kopchak is the development director from the Prince William Sound Science Centre and recalls the chaos from decades ago.

“Prince William Sound was more than just sick, Price William Sound was dying. Dead things were everywhere, birds, fish and mammals. People were severely stressed out, they were involved in the recovery of dead things. The water didn't look right, nothing smelled right. Prince William Sound was dead. And we knew at that particular point that things were not going to be the same for a while.”

After this spill, laws were passed to help prevent something this catastrophic from happening again. And now a similar spill continues to threaten the Gulf of Mexico.

Weather is currently cooperating with relief efforts, but the fragile coastline awaits the destructive slick. Like the Alaska spill, there could be years of clean-up and recovery to come.

For the latest details on this story and others making headlines, tune into The Weather Network on TV. Your newscast comes up at :12 and :42 past every hour.

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