Friday, January 26, 2007

ExxonMobil Dumping Greenpoint Oil Spill Toxins in Newtown Creek

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Riverkeeper is filing suit against ExxonMobil because it is dumping partly treated water containing toxic chemicals into Newtown Creek. The water comes from the site of the horrific Greenpoint Oil Spill--a 17-million gallon spill that is thought to be the nation's largest ever. Apparently, the oil company has been dumping groundwater that it is removing the from the vast spill site contaminated with carcinogenic benzene into Newtown Creek. According to Riverkeeper, the company has been operating under a state "equivalency" program in order to skirt the Federal Clean Water Act. City Council Member David Yassky, who represents Greenpoint, called ExxonMobil's "dangerous pollution" of Newtown Creek "nothing short of reprehensible." Today's Daily News reports that more local officials are announcing their support of the suit and roundly criticizing the energy company.

(To download Riverkeeper's Press Release about the suit, which is posted online as a Word Document, you can click here). There are a variety of lawsuits against ExxonMobil and efforts to force a faster cleanup. The spill dates back to the 1950s, though it was only "discovered" in 1978 when the oily sheen was noticed on Newtown Creek, the body of water that separates Brooklyn and Queens. The original tanks that leaked belonged to companies that are now Exxon Mobil, BP and Chevron Texaco. The trouble dates to a time when 23,000 gallons a day of gasoline and other products were refined along the banks of Newtown Creek. (For an earlier overview of the spill we put together, click here.)

Nothing was done about the vast toxic plume under Greenpoint--which contains carcinogenic benzene, explosive methane and other dangerous substances--for nearly two decades. Exxon has removed about half the spill since 1995, but estimates another two decades to complete the cleanup at the current pace.

For nearly two decades, nothing was done while the toxic plume--containing carcinogenic benzene, explosive methane and other substances--spread under Greenpoint. Since 1995, Exxon has removed about half the spilled oil, but at the current pace, it will take another two decades to clean up the rest of the spill.

Apparently, ExxonMobil is dumping 100 million gallons a year of partially-treated water into Newtown Creek. The polluted water is groundwater removed as part of the cleanup. Stay tuned for a lot more activity on the Greenpoint Oil Spill this year.

Related Post:
A Short Greenpoint Oil Spill Primer

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