State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) announced that he has joined with the allied co-plaintiffs of Riverkeeper, local activists, and other elected officials in moving forward with new action against ExxonMobil over the 17 million gallon Greenpoint Oil Spill. This new action is in regard to chemicals that ExxonMobil is discharging into Newtown Creek without permits required by the Federal Clean Water Act.
“It is a shame this litigation has been going on for this long. For 50 years my constituents in Greenpoint have been living on top of a toxic oil spill. I hope that by joining this lawsuit I can help to facilitate fair and swift action by ExxonMobil to clean up the mess they have created,” Senator Dilan said.
Currently, ExxonMobil is not required to meet the federal standards of the Clean Water Act for pollutants because of a waiver they were granted from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Under this “equivalency” program, ExxonMobil has been in violation of federal law since they began the program more than a year ago.
“This equivalency program is so far from the standards in the Clean Water Act that it is a sham to call it equal to anything. As applied in this case, the state’s equivalency program allows ExxonMobil to avoid many of the requirements in the Clean Water Act. There is no oversight, there is no room for public comment and dangerous chemicals continue to be pumped into Newtown Creek,” explained Senator Dilan.
The DEC equivalency program has an unlimited lifetime while the true Clean Water Act permits have a lifetime of only 5 years, to allow for a review and an increase of the standards. Also, there is no mandatory notification of the public or the community. Typically, the public has a voice to comment on the types of technology that will be used in the clean up, the standards of the effluent that is pumped back into the Creek and the location of the treatment infrastructure. Under the equivalency program, ExxonMobil is basically on an honor system, and there is little or no oversight by the DEC.
This lawsuit is calling for ExxonMobil to be forced to obtain the proper Clean Water Act permits as well a pay penalties amounting to $32,500 for each day of discharging without a permit.
“We are calling on ExxonMobil to put their billions of dollars of windfall profits to good use. We want them to make an honest effort to clean the millions of gallons of oil that is still under the homes of residents in Greenpoint and make the waterfront shared by Brooklyn and Queens beautiful and accessible again,” Senator Dilan concluded.
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