Can plants recover from oil spills?



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    Yes, but it depends on the plant, the location of the spill and the type of oil that has come in contact with vegetation. An important study in Alaska in the 1970s found that, while some plant species, such as deciduous shrubs, showed some degree of recovery a year after a crude oil spill, other species were rendered completely dead. The kill rate appeared to be higher with diesel spills than with crude oil. This was only an experiment, but a real-life spill in Alaska, the catastrophic 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, demonstrated that oil in the environment is even more toxic than predicted. Ten years after the spill substantial amounts of vegetation had failed to recover at all.

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