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ExxonMobil to speed oil spill cleanup

By Allan Chernoff, CNN Senior Correspondent
  • The site is in the Greepoint neighborhood of Brooklyn
  • ExxonMobil will pay $25 million for penalties, expenses and improvements to environment projects
  • About 14 million gallons of oil are believed trapped under ground

New York (CNN) -- ExxonMobil has agreed to accelerate its cleanup of a huge underground oil spill in Brooklyn, New York under a settlement reached with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The company will pay $25 million for penalties, expenses and improvements to environmental projects in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood.

"ExxonMobil is pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable resolution to this lawsuit," the company said in a statement. "The health, safety and welfare of those living and working in the Greenpoint community continue to be our top priority."

New York State last year estimated there was still about 14 million gallons of oil trapped below the ground in Greenpoint. The oil, as CNN has reported, is trapped under more than 50 acres of industrial and residential sections of Greenpoint and is largely the result of refineries that dotted the neighborhood along the Newtown Creek for a century from the 1860s to 1960s. Through acquisitions ExxonMobil came to own much of the property. Some residents of Greenpoint blame the oil spill for high levels of cancer in the neighborhood.

"For far too long, residents of Greenpoint have been forced to live with an environmental nightmare lurking just beneath their homes, their businesses and their community," said Cuomo. "With this settlement, ExxonMobil will be held accountable for fully cleaning up this environmental disaster."

The environmental group Riverkeeper, which joined the attorney general in suing ExxonMobil, declared the settlement "marks an historic turning point for the people of Greenpoint in their long struggle to reclaim their neighborhood from its legacy of industrial pollution."