Cuomo settles over Greenpoint oil spill

Keith Loria Nov. 18, 2010, 1:25pm


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he has reached a $25 million settlement with an oil giant that was allegedly responsible for an oil spill in Greenpoint, N.Y.

ExxonMobil Corporation allegedly was responsible for an oil spill that was a source of contamination in the Greenpoint community for decades. In the late 1970s, oil spills from its Greenpoint refinery and storage facility began seeping into Newtown Creek, creating a plume of oil floating on top of the water table.

Because of an estimated 17 million gallons of oil released under the community, Greenpoint now has at least 55 acres that are considered contaminated.

"For far too long, residents of Greenpoint have been forced to live with an environmental nightmare lurking just beneath their homes, their businesses and their community," Cuomo said. "With this settlement, ExxonMobil will be held accountable for fully cleaning up this environmental disaster. This settlement also repairs the damage to the community and will help make it a cleaner and healthier place to live."

Under terms of the agreement, Exxon will pay for cleanup of the spill as well as related soil and environmental contamination in the Brooklyn-based community where the spill occurred.

Exxon must conduct a comprehensive cleanup of its oil and related contamination at its Greenpoint facility and in the surrounding community. This includes oil floating on top of the water table, contaminated groundwater, soil and soil vapors.

The company is also required to create a plan for identifying the scope of the contamination and creating a solution within 90 days of the agreement.

It must also provide reports on groundwater and soil problems and create a plan to involve the community. These must be done in 120, 180 and 90 days, respectively.

In addition, Exxon must issue a report on the cleanup effort quarterly and annually, and must evaluate new technology that could speed up the oil cleanup within one year.

"I commend our attorney general and next governor, Andrew Cuomo, for joining us in this fight to hold ExxonMobil accountable and for standing up for Brooklyn and protecting our environment," Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said. "In 2006, I was proud to join Riverkeeper, local activists and elected officials in a legal action against ExxonMobil over the massive Greenpoint oil spill, and I am pleased that the lawsuit-and the subsequent action taken by the Attorney General-led to the superfund designation earlier this year."

The $25 million settlement will go towards penalties, costs and improving the local environment, including $19.5 million that will be used for environmental projects that will benefit the Greenpoint community.

Based on the agreement, an independent outreach coordinator will also be hired to ensure community participation in identifying priorities for the local environmental benefits projects to be funded.

The settlement resolves claims from a lawsuit Cuomo filed in July 2007 for Exxon's violation of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal Clean Water Act, and state law with respect to the Greenpoint oil spill, but does not incorporate the investigation and cleanup of Newtown Creek because it is a federally-designated Superfund site and is therefore being addressed by the Federal government.

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New York Attorney General
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Governor Andrew Cuomo

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