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EPA Announces Agreement with Six Potentially Responsible Parties to Investigate Newtown Creek and Evaluate Cleanup Options

By: Devin McDougall

After adding Newtown Creek to Superfund’s National Priorities List last September, EPA announced earlier this month that it has reached an agreement with six potentially responsible parties (Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation, Texaco, BP Products North America, National Grid NY, ExxonMobil and the City of New York) to conduct a remedial investigation of Newtown Creek (RI) and produce a feasibility study evaluating cleanup options (FS). The six parties also agreed to pay EPA $750,000 for past costs.

EPA estimates it will take years to complete the RI/FS. The parties have already completed a work plan for the investigation, which is scheduled to begin in August 2011, and will include analysis of Newtown Creek’s sediment, surface water, and surrounding air. Once the investigation has been completed, the parties will evaluate the feasibility of cleanup options.

EPA has stated that it plans to start developing a community advisory group later this summer. EPA plans to hold a meeting to consult with the Brooklyn and Queens communities before the end of the summer.

Cleanup efforts will face significant challenges.  According to EPA, Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted sites in the country. Due to the ready access it provides to the New York Harbor, Newtown Creek has been the site of intense industrial development dating back to the 1800s.  It has served as home to petrochemical plants, fertilizer factories, glue factories, sawmills, lumber and coal yards, and more than fifty oil refineries, including America’s first. In addition to its history of heavy industrial use, Newtown Creek has also been impacted by a serious oil spill at Exxon Mobil’s Greenpoint refinery that was discovered in the 1970s.  This spill is estimated to have discharged 17 million gallons of oil, much of which migrated into Newtown Creek.

SPR represents a number of current and prospective property owners along Newtown Creek in connection with the remediation and redevelopment of such properties for productive use. For more information about Newtown Creek and the surrounding area, please contact SPR partner Michael Bogin.

Devin McDougall is a Summer Associate at Sive, Paget & Riesel



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