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Environmental activists say thousands of oil spills remain across state


ALBANY — Thousands of petroleum oil spills at storage facilities, pipelines and places like gas stations across the state have not been properly cleaned up, according to documents from the New York Public Interest Research Group and Toxics Targeting.

Walter Hang, who runs Toxic Targeting, said that there are about 3,500 sites linked to Exxon Mobil that had spills that were not cleaned up to state standards. His report was based of records obtained by Freedom of Information Law requests to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Many of these problems have been known about, literally for decades, and they still haven’t been cleaned up,” he said at a Thursday news conference.

Hang and Blair Horner, NYPIRG’s executive director, said they were neither targeting Exxon nor producing a “comprehensive” list of spills but that the company illustrated the broader issue.

“The story is bigger than just Exxon Mobil,” Horner said. “There’s been a lot of debate in Albany about water quality and water infrastructure, issues about climate change. Clearly this shows that that agenda has to be broadened to look at the impacts that fossil fuels have in other areas as well.”

A spokesperson for Exxon Mobil said the company was reviewing the documents, but did not immediately have a comment.

Hang said negotiations between the state and various parties for many of the spills have been unresolved for years.

“In many cases these are just endless negotiations,” he said. “It’s just dragging on.”

A spokesperson for the DEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hang said the DEC maintains a database of reported spills, but that the documents obtained via public records laws include important data not found in the regular database.

“What we’re hoping for is by making this information available today to the public is drive the kind of remedial effort that will remove the pollution and meet the applicable standards,” he said.

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