On March 24, 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. This event had the largest environmental impact in not only North America but throughout the entire world and still holds an impact in society to this day. Though it has been over ten years since the disaster, the water is still trying to recover and go back to its original state. Thousands of animals died which changed the state of the environment and affected the lives of many people and because of this the wildlife of the world will never be the same. With such a tragedy you can only imagine the emotional state that people had when they found out about this.
When the Exxon Valdez struck the reef in Alaska, over 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the ruptured hull of the ship. By the time a containment effort was put forth, a weather storm had helped to spread the oil as much as three feet thick across 1400 miles of beaches. More then ten years have passed since the largest oil spill and the greatest environmental disaster in American history, but the waters and its surroundings are still recovering. Many people thought that it wasn't unusual and that it will clear up in a year or two. That was not the case with the Exxon Valdez. This massive 987-foot tanker has left a lingering, long term effect on the natural habitat that surrounds these pristine waters, along with an enormous socio-economic effect that has left many people wondering when and where the next oil spill will be. Many associated with the recovery process, and it's more than one hundred projects per year, say it will take longer than a human lifetime to determine if a full recovery is possible (Fine 1999). The Exxon Valdez oil spill was initially thought of as a two to three year clean- up project. As time went ahead, scientists and clean-up crews realized that it would take a longer period of time and require a lot more effort than originally planned.