WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) -- Laws, regulations and a lack of funds hampered major advancement of oil cleanup technologies since the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 20 years ago, experts say.
Since the 1989 disaster, some advances have been made to existing technologies, dispersants are more widely used and controlled burns have been employed, The New York Times reported Friday.
But more significant advances have been hindered by a lack of research money, and laws and regulations making it hard for testing new ideas and introducing new equipment, officials said.
Officials with BP, the company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and cleanup, said most of the equipment used represents improvements on old technology. One reason nothing new's been added to the arsenal is the absence of major oil spills since the Valdez disaster, they said.
"The events haven't driven the technology change that's out there," Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, said in a recent television interview. "I think this event probably will."
BP last week said it would buy 32 oil separating machines from actor Kevin Costner, but observers say the machines' success is far from certain, in part because oil and water don't mix.
"I'm not saying there aren't ways to improve or tweak the system," Nancy Kinner, co-director of the Coastal Response Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told the Times. "But you're not going to change the laws of physics."