Before the BP oil spill, there was the Exxon Valdez. On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker struck the Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling more than 11 million gallons of crude oil, according to EPA. The spill threatened the food chain and heavily affected the region’s wildlife. According to EPA, the disaster endangered 10 million “migratory shore birds and waterfowl, hundreds of sea otters, dozens of other species, such as harbor porpoises and sea lions, and several varieties of whales.” About 10,000 people helped clean up the spill, which cost Exxon more than $2 billion.
As a result of the spill, the government re-evaluated prevention methods and response plans for oil spills. In 1990, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act, which requires oil companies to give the federal government their response plans in case of future disasters.
It has been reported that the spill’s effects are still evident, as some fish populations remain low and families are still struggling financially.