New York state sues ExxonMobil over oil spill foot-dragging

A shot has been fired in the quiet oil-spill battle in Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Greenpoint neighborhood: the state has sued ExxonMobil to force the cleanup of the estimated 8 million gallons of oil and petroleum byproducts still underground after a 1950 explosion. The spill, larger than the Exxon Valdez debacle, was found in 1978; in 1990, the state asked ExxonMobil nicely to please take care of the 17 million remaining gallons. Since then, the company has reportedly cleaned up about 9.3 million gallons. But New York wants the rest gone soon, and is asking ExxonMobil — as well as BP, Chevron, utility KeySpan, and mining company Phelps Dodge — to treat contaminated soil and groundwater and restore nearby Newtown Creek. The suit follows two others filed since 2004 by citizens and the advocacy group Riverkeeper. “This suit sends the message that even the largest corporations in the world cannot escape the consequences of their misdeeds,” says state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Well, only for 57 years or so.