Source: Times Union (Albany, NY), November 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
The world’s largest oil company is paying the state more than $8 million to cover disputed costs of a state-run cleanup of a former oil terminal on the St. Lawrence River, according to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
The payment from ExxonMobil settles a six-year legal disagreement and is the largest payment by a polluter ever made to the state Oil Spill Fund, which funds pollution cleanups run by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The fund gets most of its cash from taxpayers in the form of a gasoline tax.
Since 2006, the state spill fund has spent about $9.3 million for cleanup at Lighthouse Point on the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie rivers in Ogdensburg, where a petroleum terminal owned by ExxonMobil and its corporate ancestors operated for about a century before closing in 1984. Pollution was found there in 2001, and a state cleanup began several years later.
ExxonMobil initially believed it settled the cleanup bill for $6 million in 2006 with former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, but his successor, Thomas DiNapoli disputed that, saying the extra costs had to be addressed in any settlement. DiNapoli sent the case to Schneiderman.
“Through today’s agreement, we’re not only returning millions to the state but also holding ExxonMobil responsible for their role in this oil spill,” the attorney general said.
The remaining balance of the cleanup, more than $1 million, will be borne by the spill fund.
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the State of New York,” said ExxonMobil spokesman Todd Spitler.
For 2012-13, the fund spent about $14.8 million statewide on cleanups, and recovered about $8.2 million in reimbursement and penalties from polluters, ending the year with a $3 million deficit, according to state records. The fund began 416 cleanups statewide during that time, and completed 111.
Since the fund began in 1978, it has spent more than $464 million on spill cleanups, $306 million to run the program, and collected $196 million from polluters. During that same period, the gasoline tax kicked in $577 million.