Will there ever be a point when there are stories about the Greenpoint oil spill cleanup, instead of stories about how big and dangerous the spill is? Representatives Anthony Weiner and Nydia Velazquez released the results of the first EPA study (first study ever after, what, 29 years!) of the Greenpoint oil spill, and they are pretty ugly. Here some excerpts from the press release:
- The original estimated size of the spill of 17 million gallons by a 1979 Coast Guard report should be used with caution. The present size of the plume suggests the original volume estimate may have been low. Estimates are as high as 30 million gallons.
- Northern border (Newtown Creek) is larger than originally mapped in 1979.
- Western border, “is somewhat expanded” from the original mapping.
- Eastern border: “appears to be moving across the former Paragon property.”
- A small thin plume has separated and flows along Meeker Avenue.
- Southern border is stable.
- Approximately 8.8 million gallons of the spill has been recovered. EPA cautions that this recovery volume may be overestimated.
- Only about 70% of the petroleum on the ground water is recoverable because of the urban setting, and because oil gets trapped in the soil--The American Petroleum Institute estimated in 40% to 80% will remain in the soil.
- While the spill has been well contained, at present, seepage continues into Newtown Creek.
There are known problems, like large amounts of methane gas and benzene found near homes in the area, but it's unclear whether the water supply has been affected by the spill. Unsurprisingly, the EPA thinks a re-evaluation is warranted.
Back in 1978, a Coast Guard pilot noticed an oil plume off Newtown Creek: It turned out the biggest oil spill in American history (more than the 11 million from the Exxon Valdez spill) had been taking place since the 1940s and 1950s, thanks to Exxon and in 1978, the spill covered 55 acres. Weiner and Velazquez are still unsatisfied with the EPA study, saying that more questions need to be answered and that clean-up need to happen immediately.
The Riverkeeper Group filed a lawsuit on behalf of Greenpoint residents in 2004: Check out the Residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn V. Exxon lawsuit website - it has tons of documents and maps. The New Yorker in 2004 and Village Voice last year looked at this little-known spill; NPR also covered it, because the area of the spill was one of the sites for the NYC 2012 Olympic bid. And Erin Brockovich (the real one) has been working on the case, too. Earlier this year, Attorney General Cuomo said the state would sue Exxon