Exxon's Biggest Spill in Brooklyn, Not Alaska

The site, which once was the site of some 400 oil refineries in the late 1800s, was identified as an environmental hazard in 1978 when a Coast Guard patrol spotted an oily plume in Newtown Creek.

Published: 04-Jan-2007

The biggest oil spill Exxon Mobil has to answer for is not the cargo that gushed from the Exxon Valdez tanker into Alaska's Prince William Sound. It is the fuel that soaked into the ground beneath a working class section of Brooklyn, New York.

The pressure is rising on Exxon Mobil to expand its cleanup of oil that seeped into the soil over many decades in the Greenpoint neighborhood. The office of the New York State attorney general is threatening legal action, and two suits in the past year seek billions of dollars for damage to property values and health risks.

In the late 1800s, the area housed more than 50 refineries, and the contamination may have begun then, Exxon Mobil said. By 1892, most of the facilities were owned by Standard Oil, an Exxon Mobil predecessor.

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