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Exxon Valdez
Exxon Valdez
Spill size: 38,500 tons
Responsible party: Exxon
Cost: $3.5 billion
Inflation-adjusted: $6.3 billion

The Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 was relatively small compared to large spills outside of the US, but it was an expensive mess. The ship wrecked on a reef and dumped its crude cargo into Prince William Sound, an extremely sensitive ecosystem off the Alaskan coast. The Sound is also in cold water, which means that the organisms that break down oil can't survive--much of it is still there.

NEXT: Amoco Cadiz
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Last updated May 19 2010: 12:28 PM ET