Exxon, the multinational oil company you may recall from such hit environmental catastrophes as the Valdez and global warming, has agreed to pay $25 million toward cleaning up that huge underground oil plume that spans at least 55 acres of Greenpoint. The company, which rakes in somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 billion a year, reached a settlement with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office to make amends for the oil spill, which happened over the course of several decades when the company was doing business as Standard Oil. Perhaps 17 million gallons of oil was released in all, making it the second worst spill in U.S. history next to the summer's Gulf spill. But hey—$25 million! We're cool now, right?

"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," Cuomo said in a statement. "With this settlement, ExxonMobil will be held accountable for fully cleaning up this environmental disaster. This settlement also repairs the damage to the community and will help make it a cleaner and healthier place to live." As part of the settlement, Exxon has agreed to perform a full clean up of its oil spill, including soil, groundwater and air pollution, as well as any related environmental contamination in Greenpoint—but that doesn't include Newtown Creek, where the spill was first discovered by a Coast Guard patrol in 1978.

Newtown Creek is now a Superfund site under the federal government's purview, so Exxon's cleanup will stop at the waterway's polluted banks. But oil still seeps into the creek, and local residents say they smell oil in their basements anytime there's a heavy rain. The settlement includes $500,000 in civil penalties and damages, $1.5 million compensation to the state for past cleanups, and $3.5 million for future oversight costs. And $19.5 million will fund “Environmental Benefit Projects” that will benefit the environment in Greenpoint. Thus far, an estimated 11 million gallons have been removed, Exxon tells Business Week, which also reports that a $58 billion class-action lawsuit filed by Greenpoint residents against Exxon is still pending.