Newtown Creek Could Get Superfund Status

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Brooklyn’s Newtown Creek, polluted by a major underground oil spill, could become a Superfund site if newly planned tests by the federal Environmental Protection Agency find it to be sufficiently dangerous.

Reps. Anthony Weiner and Nydia Velázquez praised the EPA yesterday for the decision to review testing by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at four sites in the Newtown Creek area, where an estimated 17 million to 30 million gallons of oil were spilled since the 1950s. The spill was not discovered until 1978 and ExxonMobil, which owned the refinery that caused the underground leak, has since cleaned an estimated 9.4 million gallons of oil from the area.

“The commitment made by the EPA to test the sites is a big win for Newtown Creek residents. These tests will help us find answers to basic questions about the spill’s health and environmental risks, giving this environmental disaster the national attention it deserves,” Mr. Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said yesterday in a statement.

Ms. Velázquez said yesterday that she hoped the EPA would move quickly to designate the sites as part of the federal Superfund program, which would make them eligible for federal funding to cover the costs of cleaning the contamination.

“Thirty years is a long time to wait for what should have been a prompt and thorough response to this environmental disaster,” Ms. Velázquez said in a statement.

According to a spokeswoman for the EPA, the agency will first review data collected from previous tests by the DEC and then conduct its own tests if gaps are found in the results. If EPA testing finds that the area is a threat to the surrounding community, the area will be considered for Superfund status.

The New York Sun

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