ExxonMobil Wants NYC Taxpayers to Pay to Clean Up its Site

By Dave Evans
(Greenpoint-WABC, October 27, 2003)Tonight the world's largest oil company -- ExxonMobil -- says it wants New York City taxpayers to pay for cleaning up a contaminated site. A site where the mayor wants Exxon Mobil to build a new power plant, and a site that the company already owns.

It's located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at Manhattan avenue and New Town Creek. That's where political reporter Dave Evans is.

Eyewitness News has also learned that the company that would actually build the power plant here is adamantly opposed to this location. And that is probably a big disappointment tonight to the Bloomberg administration.

It is one of the state's most polluted sites. Seventeen million gallons of oil, more than in the Exxon-Valdez spill, has for decades seeped into a 10-acre site in Brooklyn, along New Town Creek.

It's owned by ExxonMobil, and it's responsible for the cleanup that will continue for another 10 years.

City Hall now believed it would be a perfect site for a new power plant. And in a letter from ExxonMobil obtained by Eyewitness News, one executive writes in order to close the deal:

"The City must assume all Exxon Mobil's environmental obligations."

David Yassky, (D) NYC Council Member: "Well, I sure hope that ExxonMobil doesn't think they're going to get the New York City taxpayers to pick up the cost of cleaning up their mess."

Yassky calls it a crazy idea to saddle taxpayers in a deal just to find the power plant a new home.

Daniel Doctoroff, NYC Deputy Mayor: "Well, we haven't negotiated a deal. That's a letter from them."

Deputy Mayor Doctoroff today downplayed the threat, even though one of his chief advisers in testimony to state officials recently said:

"We have been discussing the availability of the site with representatives from ExxonMobil for the past several months."
-- Joe Chan, NYC Senior Policy Adviser

Still, Doctoroff said the city's obligation in any cleanup is a long way away.

Daniel Doctoroff: "We'll obviously have to do our due dilligence to make sure that we don't think we're going to be sticking the taxpayers with the bill. But based on what we've seen right now we think that risk is really not that significant."

And late this afternoon I spoke with an official with ExxonMobil in Dallas, and he told me that really negotiations are just beginning to try to get the city of New York involved in the cleanup here. While environmentalists and neighbors here hope that such a deal is never done.

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    Last Updated: Oct 27, 2003