EXXON VALDEZ PHOTOS: 20 Years On, Spilled Oil Remains

PHOTOS: Exxon Valdez Oil Still Damaging Environment
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A mixture of oil and water oozes into a roughly 10-inch-deep (25-centimeter-deep) hole dug into a beach on Alaska's Eleanor Island in Prince William Sound on February 6, 2009.

An intensive cleanup after the Exxon Valdez disaster ended in 1994, when oil was naturally disintegrating at a high rate. Experts wrongly predicted the oil would be gone within a few years.

Instead, the natural breakdown of the oil has slowed, mostly due to the oil-coated beaches' isolation from regular water flow, experts said in March 2009. Stronger water flow would slough off bits of oil and replenish nutrients for oil-eating bacteria, experts say.
—Photograph courtesy Scott Dickerson/WWF
 
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