Lack of improvement in cleanup technology since Valdez spill
Two decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, cleanup technology has progressed so little that the biggest advancement in the Gulf of Mexico disaster — at least in the public’s mind — is an oil-water separator based on a 17-year-old patent and promoted by the movie star Kevin Cosner.
Experts say there have been some improvements in skimmers and other existing technologies since the 1989 Exxon accident in Alaska. Dispersants to break up oil have been far more widely used in the Deepwater Horizon leak in the gulf than in any previous spill, and they have been used for the first time underwater. Controlled burns of oil — only tested in 1989 — have been conducted regularly in the gulf.