Oil spill prevention requires continuous improvements along every phase of operation including production, transportation, storage or marketing. The industry has made a commitment to meeting the nation's energy demands while maintaining safe and environmentally sound operations. "The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 mandated the phasing out of conventional, single-hulled tankers, and the International Maritime Organization followed with similar regulations two years later. By 2010, all tankers and supertankers carrying crude oil must have double hulls - with a second, inner layer of steel separated by empty space from the outer hull" (Martin).

The new laws also make the oil companies individually responsible for the spills. The change in legislature has led to the innovation of a variety of new techniques to prevent oil from spilling in the event of an accident. A neoprene "Magnapatch," which acts like a band-aid if the hull is breached and a hydrostatic pressure system that prevents oil from escaping are new prevention systems in use.

"New Millennium Class tankers will be equipped with double hulls separated by 10 feet, 50 percent more than required under the OPA" (Martin). They will also contain two main engines powered by separate propellers, 8,000 more tons of steel than conventional tankers of similar size and state-of-the-art navigation systems. "Designed using 'dynamic load analysis,' which simulates stress factors encountered in real-world sailing conditions, the Millennium Class tankers are built for 30 years of operation" (Martin). The majority of tankers in used by oil companies today were built in the early 1970s with a life span of roughly 20 years.

Eliminating oil spills is as impossible as eliminating train wrecks or airline crashes, but with the debut of the new Millennium Class tankers, the Exxon Valdez spill has prompted officials to invent the safest oil tankers to date.

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