VALDEZ SPILL DAMAGE CROSSES FOOD CHAIN

The Exxon Valdez oil spill caused more harm to the environment than originally believed, according to the first federal damage assessment of the March 1989 disaster. More than two years after the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, the spilled oil was continuing to harm wildlife, according to a summary of collected government studies released April 8.

Scientists reported finding oil 330 feet below the surface and throughout the food chain, from fish to seals to bears. According to the report, the 11 million gallons of spilled crude killed up to 5,500 sea otters. Some bird colonies lost up to 70 percent of their breeding population and have showed a complete reproductive failure during 1989 and 1990.

The summary was submitted to the US District Court in Anchorage. Federal officials said the information would be useful in evaluating a proposed $1 billion civil settlement.

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