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When Saddam Hussein invaded his small, oil-rich neighbor in the summer of 1990, the Department faced its first full-scale post-Cold War international crisis.
The New York Times reported that a 1993 study sponsored by UNESCO, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States found the spill did "little long-term damage": About half the oil evaporated, 1,000,000 US barrels (120,000 m More recent scientific studies have tended to disagree with this assessment.
Marshlands and mud tidal flats continued to contain large quantities of oil, over nine years later, and full recovery is likely to take decades. Jacqueline Michel, US geochemist (2010 interview – transcript of radio broadcast): The long term effects were very significant.
The main reason for the delayed recovery of the salt marshes is the absence of physical energy (wave action) and the mostly anaerobic milieu of the oiled substrates.
The latter is mostly caused by cyanobacteria which forms impermeable mats. The availability of oxygen is the most important criteria for oil degradation.
[T]he oil penetrated much more deeply into the intertidal sediment than normal because those sediments there have a lot of crab burrows, and the oil penetrated deep, sometimes 30, 40 centimetres, you know a couple of feet, into the mud of these tidal flats. already 1993 by UNEP, several coastal areas even in 2001 still show significant oil impact and in some places no recovery at all.
The salt marshes which occur at almost 50% of the coastline show the heaviest impact compared to the other ecosystem types after 10 years.
The slick reached a maximum size of 101 miles (160 km) by 42 miles (68 km) and was 5 inches (13 cm) thick in some areas.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the size of the spill, figures place it several times the size (by volume) of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
During a 27-year government career, Eagleburger had been a staffer for Kissinger’s National Security Council, and held numerous senior positions at the Department of State, including Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Deputy Under Secretary for Management, and Assistant Secretary for European Affairs.
Eagleburger's appointment reflected Bush’s deep respect for the Foreign Service.