A bankrupt oil company is shelling out $16 million toward cleaning up Newtown Creek, where it dumped oil and other chemicals.
Getty Oil, which reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2011 to cushion itself against mounting environmental cleanup costs, agreed to the big-money settlement to atone for its misdeeds in Greenpoint’s backyard after being pressed by the feds.
“For more than a century, irresponsible industrial activities turned Newtown Creek into a tributary of toxic waste,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “Today’s settlement ensures that Getty takes responsibility for its contribution to that sad legacy, and pays a fair share of clean-up costs at the site.”
The federal government will get $14,844,800 towards the still-being-planned Newtown Superfund cleanup and $1,155,200 for other testing and cleanup, per the terms of the settlement. Thirty million gallons of oil seeped into Newtown Creek from multiple sources over the course of decades, an amount more than three times that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. The fetid inlet was declared a federal Superfund site in 2010.
The feds have already spent more than $25 million testing the creek and devising a remediation plan, according to Ryan Kuonen, chairman of the local community board’s environmental committee. It is no secret that the scrub-down is a long way from being done, Kuonen said.
“They have always been honest about it being a 20-year timeline and it has only been four years, so we have a long while to go,” he said.
A Greenpoint resident said he is glad to see Big Oil being made to pay.
“Anything that we can get from these companies is good,” said Dewey Thompson, founder of the North Brooklyn Boat Club, which launches kayaks and canoes onto the putrid channel. “I am glad they are going after these guys and that some of the money is coming back.”
Petro-giants British Petroleum, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil have committed tens of millions of dollars in recent years to cleaning up oil dumped and spilled into the foul waterway.