Greenpoint tells Exxon: Suck it up!

Greenpointers skeptical about a claim by ExxonMobil that its cleanup of the massive underground oil spill under Greenpoint will speed up later this year are demanding an outside consultant be hired to make sure the oil giant keeps its promises.

Exxon showed off its progress at a community meeting last Thursday at the St. Stanislaus Kostka School on Newell Street that featured a fancy slide show and a promise to double the number of pumps it is currently operating in the area around the Newtown Creek.

But Bob McEarlean, a Hausman Street resident, was among many who said the oil company’s assurance that it was working as fast as it could was “a load of bull.”

“Youse guys should have stepped up a long time ago,” McEarlean said. “I don’t trust this.”

Other residents questioned why it will take two more decades — on top of the 17 years so far — to finish cleaning the 30-million-gallon spill.

But ExxonMobil said it is using “the most efficient” technology available, according to Donald L. Clarke, a company official.

“If better technology comes along, that is more efficient, I promise you that we will use it and we will be here until the job is done,” Clarke said. Area residents say there is no way for them to know if Exxon is telling the truth.

“We as a community lack the expertise to understand what technologies are ‘state-of-the-art,’” said Christine Holowacz. “So I suggest that ExxonMobil pay for an independent consultant … so that we can be assured that you really are doing all that you can.”

The plume, which is three times larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster, is the result of slow leaks from the many oil refineries that lined Newtown Creek in the late-19th and 20th Centuries. It was discovered almost 30 years ago and, in 1990, the state ordered ExxonMobil to clean it up. Since then, the company has spent $50 million and recovered 9.5 million gallons, according to Exxon officials.