Local groups get grants from Greenpoint oil spill settlement

Oil Spill Stretches Below 55 Acres in Neighborhood

March 10, 2014 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A church, a well-known conservation group, a boat club, a middle school and a community garden are among the 18 entities that have been chosen to receive the first environment-related grant awards from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

The fund is a $19.5 million improvement measure created from money obtained by the state in a 2011 settlement with ExxonMobil over the massive Greenpoint Oil Spill – a spill which, at 17 to 30 million gallons, is at least 50 percent bigger than the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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The spill was the result of several industrial accidents in the 1950s, when the area surrounding Newtown Creek was lined with oil refineries. It was first discovered in 1978, when a helicopter patrol noticed a large plume of oil flowing out of the banks of the creek.

Today, the spill stretches underground from the creek to Meeker Avenue. According to Riverkeeper, it is estimated to run below 55 acres of Greenpoint industrial, commercial and residential property, in some places only a few feet below the surface.

The $19.5 million is the result of a consent decree that resulted from a lawsuit by Riverkeeper and several public officials against ExxonMobil and several other oil companies for violating the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

ExxonMobil is the “heir” to several of the original companies that once existed in the area. According to Riverkeeper, Mobil (one of the predecessors of ExxonMobil) “spilled an additional 50,000 gallons of oil into Newtown Creek and Greenpoint during one winter week in 1990.”

The organizations receiving grants include:

  • John Ericsson Middle School 126, $24,998 to create wildlife demonstration sites using native plants, shrubs and shade trees.

  • North Brooklyn Boat Club, $24,660 to fund a “Don’t Put Your (Cigarette) Butt in the Creek” campaign. The club will also receive $24,693 to expand their waterways environmental education program, as well as $24,426 to support educational programming at its ED Shed.

  • Newtown Creek Alliance, $24,735 to research and develop a plan to transform North Henry Street in Greenpoint into accessible open space and shoreline. The group will also receive $24,980 to design and built a “living dock” on the eastern shore of Newtown Creek’s “No-Name” tributary.

  • The Greenpoint Reformed Church, $5,000 to determine the feasibility of installing a green roof on the church.

  • 61 Franklin St. Garden, $25,000 to develop a self-sustaining garden at the location, which was until recently a derelict lot.

  • Java Street Community Garden, $19,178 to improve sustainable practices at the garden.

  • New York Audubon Society, $24,871 to create an Urban Oasis for migratory birds at McGolrick Park.

  • New York Audubon Society, $24,997, to implement a “For the Birds” environmental education program at P.S. 110. The group will also receive $24,996 to implement a similar program at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy.

  • Build It Green, $12,500 to determine the feasibility of developing a community compost site in Greenpoint.

  • The Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, $25,000 to design and create a mural exploring the history of environmental advocacy in Greenpoint.

  • Greenpoint Waterfront Association, $12,400 to organize four public panel discussions on environmental concerns.

  • La Casita Verde, $25,000 to fund a mobile compost initiative at three local schools.

  • Solar One, $24,954, to implement the Green Design Lab at two Greenpoint public schools.

  • Greenpoint YMCA, $22,750 to support its “Green Beans” science education program for children ages 5 to 12.

State Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Downtown Brooklyn/Lower Manhattan) said, “It’s a breath of fresh air to see these community-driven environmental projects come to life in North Brooklyn — including improved open space in a community that truly needs it, as well as education and stewardship programs and greener neighborhoods.”

Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights/Downtown/Greenpoint), “The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund has presented a much-needed opportunity to invest in a healthy future for the neighborhood we all love. I appreciate the state’s efforts to ensure the fund works with and for the Greenpoint community.”

The fund is being overseen by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office. It is not directly related to the Superfund project to clean up Newtown Creek, which is a federal measure.


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