News > News > Stop Polluters > Contaminated Sites > Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Riverkeeper Announce Historic Settlement

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Riverkeeper Announce Historic Settlement

This week marked a significant moment in history when Riverkeeper joined Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in announcing a landmark settlement against ExxonMobil that holds the company responsible for cleaning up between 17 and 30 million gallons of oil that were spilled and leaked from its refinery and storage facilities into the soil and groundwater in Greenpoint, Brooklyn since the 1970s.

These petroleum discharges formed an over 50 acre underground petroleum plume that underlies local businesses and a residential section of Greenpoint. The contamination has also been leaching into Newtown Creek for decades.

Riverkeeper discovered the oil spill during a boat patrol of Newtown Creek in 2002, when we found the first evidence of seeping oil from the Exxon refinery site, and in 2004, we initiated the first citizen’s suit case against Exxon for failure to clean up the spill.

Our case quickly led to independent court filings by Brooklyn officials and others in 2005. Andrew Cuomo started his own action almost immediately after becoming Attorney General in 2007. Cuomo then led the negotiations which produced the settlement. Riverkeeper was an integral part of these negotiations, thanks in large part to the great and diligent work done by the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic.

Here’s what makes this settlement such a big win:

  • Exxon has taken full responsibility for an aggressive cleanup, both on and off their site in Greenpoint.
  • The settlement sets firm deadlines for action and establishes penalties for missing these deadlines.
  • Greenpoint gets $19.5 million for parks and community-based environmental projects [the biggest in state history].
  • Riverkeeper gets to monitor progress in implementing the settlement and can go back to court if it falters.

While this ends a chapter in the Exxon case, it is not the end of the whole story. Next steps are to help the citizens organize to monitor the progress of the cleanup and also the distribution of the $19.5 million for community benefit projects. Riverkeeper looks forward to sharing cleanup milestones and community benefit project updates and to a brighter future for Greenpoint.

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