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NEW YORK -- ExxonMobil has agreed to pay $25 million for the underground oil spill cleanup of New York City's Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. The settlement with Attorney General and New York's governor-elect Andrew Cuomo and environmental group Riverkeeper ends years of litigation over the refineries that once lined the Brooklyn waterfront and also gets the ball rolling on the decades-long cleanup of the neighborhood that sits above the oil plume, The Associated Press reported.
The company was given a deadline for cleanup, required to clean contaminated soil and ensure that fumes are not entering area resident's homes, Cuomo stated. Penalties will be issued if Exxon fails to meet clean-up deadlines.
According to AP, Exxon believes that oil "was spilled bit by bit over a century in which regulation of refineries was lighter than it is now, and spills and leaks were common." Exxon has pumped more than 11 million gallons from the site, but the cleanup process has lagged. Exxon stands its ground that it has made a continued effort to clean the contaminated site to the best of its abilities and also stated on its company Web site: "The health, safety and welfare of those living and working in the Greenpoint community continue to be our top priority," adding that they are committed to the remediation project, AP reported.
In addition to the aforementioned legalities, Greenpoint residents who live above the oil plume have a lawsuit pending against Exxon. BP and Chevron Corp. also own stake in the site and since the U.S. Government recently declared Newtown Creek (lying between Brooklyn and Queens) to be a Superfund site, future legal wrangling could arise on which of the three companies is most responsible for polluting the industrialized waterway, AP stated.