That's what State Comptroller Alan Hevesi is asking. He advised the Department of Environmental Conservation not to negotiate an agreement with Exxon over the Greenpoint oil spill clean up because the spill needs to be thoroughly examined. Back in 1978, a Coast Guard pilot noticed an oil plume off Newtown Creek: It turned out that 17 million gallons (more than the 11 million from the Exxon Valdez spill) of oil had been spilling since the 1940s and 1950s, and in 1978, the spill covered 55 acres. We've found it odd that the Greenpoint oil spill hasn't been a bigger deal - maybe that's because there aren't any photographs of Alaskan animals in an oil slick - but it's possibly scarier, as it the oil has been seeping into the soil and exposed in an urban area.
Hevesi included photographs (1, 2, 3) showing that oil is not being contained by "booms," and says that the Oil Spill Fund, the NY Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund, should pay for a more extensive public study of the spill and the damage it has caused. And, of course, the oil companies would have to pay the Oil Spill Fund back if necessary.
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 month 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) is working on the case, too.