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At Greenpoint oil spill, it’s a good thing to suck

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Could the Greenpoint oil spill soon be a distant memory?

State officials said they have made significant progress cleaning up one of the largest oil spills in the country, recovering more sludge last year than any previous year — 175 percent more petroleum than last year, in fact.

Oil companies sucked out about 880,000 gallons of oil last year, bringing the grand total to 10.8 million gallons recovered since the clean-up began in 2000. There’s a long way to go, as state officials estimate that anywhere from 6.2 to nearly 20 million gallons of petroleum product were spread under about 120 acres in Greenpoint.

“In terms of oil recovery, we’re more than a third of the way there,” said state Department of Environmental Conservation project manager Ed Hampston.

But not everyone is popping Champagne.

“If we don’t know how much oil is there, it is difficult to tell how long it will take to remove all of it,” said Riverkeeper’s Philip Musegaas.

Hampston and other state environmental officials would not estimate how long it will take to remove all the oil, which seeped into the ground between 1860 and 1947 from scores of oil refineries. Many of those companies have since consolidated into new entities, including ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron/Texaco.

The Environmental Protection Agency believes it will take 10 to 25 years to get up all the muck.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to correct the spelling of a popular French sparkling wine.
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