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Cleanup Inadequate At NY Exxon Legacy Sites, Enviros Say


Law360, New York (April 21, 2017, 5:54 PM EDT) -- Environmental advocates on Thursday released an analysis of petroleum spills across New York allegedly from Exxon Mobil Corp. and its predecessors, arguing that more needs to be done to clean up the contaminants.

The analysis, which was conducted by environmental database firm Toxics Targeting Inc. and announced with the New York Public Interest Research Group, allegedly found that there was a significant failure to adequately clean up petroleum spills at a vast array of facilities ranging from pipelines to gas stations.

Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting said it was wrong that so many spills had not been cleaned up to meet state standards.

“Justice delayed for decades is justice denied,” he told Law360 on Friday.

The analysis highlighted oil leaks from an old 300-mile pipeline built by Exxon predecessor Standard Oil that ran from Olean, New York, into New Jersey. According to the analysis, oil releases were reported in Olean, Cameron Mills and Hancock, which are along the pipeline’s route. Some of those releases have not been cleaned up to state standards, the analysis said.

In addition, the information released by Toxics Targeting said that a large oil spill in Brooklyn along Newtown Creek is not fully cleaned up despite it being around for decades. That spill is commonly referred to as the oil spill in Greenpoint. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has a website dedicated to the spill, which highlights years of work aimed at remediation.

The analysis focused solely on Exxon and its predecessors.

“They have been around a really long time. They were really the first giant oil and petroleum product company and as a result the problems that resulted from their business activities have been around probably longer than anyone else on the scale that we are seeing in New York,” Hang said.

According to the statement released by NYPIRG, it teamed up with Toxics Targeting prior to Earth Day to focus on the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.

Sean Mahar, a spokesman with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, said it is attentive to any spills that are reported.

“DEC rapidly responds to and cleans up thousands of contaminated sites every year in every corner of the state to ensure that the environment and public health are protected at all times while aggressively pursuing and holding those accountable for the contamination,” Mahar told Law360 in a statement. “Our dedicated field staff and first responders will continue their daily response to spills to keep New Yorkers safe.”

The analysis was conducted via regulatory information compiled by Toxics Targeting obtained through the state's Freedom of Information Law, according to the announcement.

A representative for Exxon said the company disagreed with the findings contained in the analysis.

“Where historical impacts exist as a result of its own or its predecessors’ operations, the company works under the oversight of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to address those impacts,” William F. Holbrook, a company spokesman, told Law360 in a statement on Friday. “Remediation of legacy sites is a broad issue for industry and ExxonMobil is an active participant. ExxonMobil takes its environmental responsibility seriously and is committed to meeting its compliance and remediation obligations.”