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New York Sues Exxon

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo moved today to sue Exxon Mobil and four other companies over millions of gallons of oil lying under the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn and to repair environmental damage inflicted on the nearby Newtown Creek.


The decision marks a sharp turning point in the state’s handling of the half-century-old spill, which in recent years has sparked lawsuits by Greenpoint residents, local elected officials and environmental groups. A 1990 agreement between Exxon and state environmental officials had required the company to recover the spilled oil, but specified no deadline, levied no penalties for the pollution and required no remediation of either the creek or the polluted soil under Greenpoint.

At least 8 million gallons of oil and petroleum byproducts remain under the neighborhood, and soil tests have revealed toxic vapors emanating from the spill into the homes and businesses above. Mr. Cuomo’s action will seek a far faster pace for recovering the oil, extensive scientific testing to determine damage to the soil and groundwater under Greenpoint, and significant fines under federal environmental laws.

“This is one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation, larger than the Exxon Valdez and slower in the cleanup,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “Exxon must and will be held accountable. The toxic footprint of Exxon is found all over this area. It is Exxon’s oil that remains under the homes and businesses. And it is Exxon that has dragged its feet and done as little as possible to address the dangers that it created.”

Last modified February 08, 2007, at 03:10 PM EST  © Transnational Temps
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