From: David B. Caruso, Associated Press
Published January 25, 2007 12:00 AM

New Suit Planned Over Brooklyn Oil Spill

NEW YORK -- An environmental group and several city politicians said Wednesday they plan to file a new lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. over its handling of a huge underground oil spill in Brooklyn.


Exxon has already faced a series of legal challenges related to the slick, which lies below the neighborhood of Greenpoint and dates from a centurylong period when the area was home to refineries.


Over more than a decade, the company has used a pumping system to siphon about 9.3 million gallons of oil from the borough's water table, shrinking a plume believed to contain at least 17 million gallons before work began.


Environmentalists have bristled over the slow pace and effectiveness of the cleanup.


Plaintiffs including the environmental group Riverkeeper said they plan to announce the new lawsuit at a news conference Thursday. It would accuse the company of violating federal law by failing to ensure that water ejected into the Newtown Creek by the cleanup system is free of pollutants.


"There are some real concerns about what they are discharging in the water," said City Councilman Eric Gioia, who is joining the lawsuit.


Exxon spokeswoman Prem Nair said Wednesday that the groundwater treatment system in place at the site was approved by state regulators and that the discharged liquid is sampled regularly for toxins.


She added that the company was "very committed" to cleaning the site and had made significant progress despite difficult terrain.


Under federal environmental laws, the plaintiffs are required to formally notify Exxon of their intent to file suit, then give the company a chance to respond before proceeding to court.


Riverkeeper spokesman Basil Seggos said he was hopeful the company would agree to re-examine the pumping system to avoid further litigation.


The state's Department of Environmental Conservation also has asked New York's attorney general to initiate legal action against Exxon over the cleanup, but no such lawsuit has been filed.


Source: Associated Press


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