Oil giant to dedicate $19.5 million—of $25 million settlement for penalties, costs and restoration of local environment—to Greenpoint environmental fund
Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) today announced that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has reached a settlement with ExxonMobil Corporation to begin the cleanup of the millions of gallons of oil released into Newtown Creek beginning in the 1970’s.
By court order, ExxonMobil is required to pay the entire costs of the Newtown Creek oil spill.
As part of the settlement, the company must pay approximately $25 million for penalties, costs and efforts to restore the immediate environment. This restoration includes the formation of a $19.5 million Environmental Benefit Projects fund that will pay for environmental projects within Greenpoint and nearby to the creek. As well as, $250,000 in damages to fund compensatory projects to offset the loss of natural resources in Greenpoint.
“The communities surrounding Newtown Creek have endured more than a century of industrial negligence. Greenpoint has worked hard to get a handle on that carelessness, but we’ve been unable to seriously address the worst of the environmental damage to Newtown Creek; things like toxic fumes, contaminated soil and water, oil slicks, and even the presence of PCBs, ” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.
In September 2010, Newtown Creek was designated a federal Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new designation followed the outcome of a series of EPA tests and samples taken over a three-month period in 2009. That report confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals, heavy metals and petroleum products in more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment. It is estimated that 17 million gallons of oil contaminated at least 55 acres in the immediate area of the spill.
Today’s settlement requires ExxonMobil to continue with a more comprehensive cleanup of its Greenpoint facility and related sites. Other areas in the surrounding community must also be remediated. The cleanup will target oil above the water table, groundwater and soil contaminants, and vapors released by the oil.
An independent outreach coordinator will be hired to ensure community participation in the identification of local projects to benefit from the $19.5 million fund. ExxonMobil must also implement a “Citizen Participation Plan” to include Greenpoint residents in the cleanup. A public meeting regarding the ExxonMobil settlement will be held at the Polish Slavic Center, 176 Java St., Brooklyn, Tuesday, November 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“I thank Attorney General Cuomo for seeing this process through and giving Greenpoint the tools it needs to begin the clean up. Throughout my career, I have been a strong proponent of environmental causes. I am proud of the community for banding together and standing behind Greenpoint and Newtown Creek, as we worked to change the tide of more than a century of industrial negligence. I look forward to working with the local community as we begin to clean up Newtown Creek and return it to Greenpoint cleaner and safer for future generations.”