Enforcement

Case Summary: Settlement Reached at Newtown Creek Superfund Site

On September 7, 2011, an agreement was reached between EPA and Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation, Texaco Inc., BP products North America, Brooklyn Union Gas Company d/b/a National Grid NY, ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, and, The City of New York to begin work at the Newtown Creek Superfund Site. The agreement provides for a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) and certain cost recovery relating to liabilities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, (CERCLA, more commonly known as Superfund).

On this page:

Information about the Parties
Newtown Creek Superfund Site
Pollutants and Environmental Effects
Summary of the Agreement
Contact Information

Information about the Parties

Newtown Creek has been home to oil refineries, petrochemical plants, fertilizer and glue factories, sawmills, and, coal yards. The waterway was the nation's busiest waterway during World War II. In addition to the industrial use, New York City began dumping raw sewage into the water as far back as 1856.

Each one of the parties listed above currently own or operate a facility within the Site; at the time of disposal of hazardous substances, owned or operated facilities within the Site; is a person who arrange for disposal of hazardous substances at the Site; or is a person who transported hazardous substances to a facility selected by such person within the Site.

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Newtown Creek Superfund Site

The Newtown Creek Superfund Site is situated at the border of the boroughs of Brooklyn (Kings County) and Queens (Queens County) in the City of New York and the State of New York. It has an approximate 3.8-mile reach, including Newtown Creek proper and its five tributaries known respectively as Dutch Kills, Maspeth Creek, Whale Creek, East Branch and English Kills. In addition, the Site includes the sediments below the water and the water column above the sediments, up to and including the landward edge of the shoreline, and it includes any bulkheads or riprap containing the waterbody, except where no bulkhead or riprap exists.

The majority of the upland area bordering Newtown Creek is within one of three Industrial Business Zones of the City of New York, and the majority of Newtown Creek has also been designated by the City of New York as one of the City's six Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas. Newtown Creek is currently used for recreational purposes by kayakers, and additionally, there is fishing access along its banks.

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Pollutants and Environmental Effects

Metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds (including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls) are present in the Newtown Creek sediments at concentrations above levels in nearby locations in the Atlantic Basin.

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Summary of the Agreement

The AOC concerns the preparation and performance of a RI/FS at or in connection with the Newtown Creek Study Area portion of the Site. There are three main objectives in the AOC:

  1. To determine the nature and extent of contamination and any threat to the public health, welfare, or the environment caused by the release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants at or from the Study Area;
  2. To identify and evaluate remedial alternatives to prevent, mitigate or otherwise respond to or address and release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants at or form the Study Area; and,
  3. To recover response and oversight costs incurred by the EPA with respect to this AOC as well as past response costs.

The Respondent parties are required to pay the government $750,000 for past response costs and are responsible for future response costs.

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Contact

For more information, contact:

Meredith Fishburn
Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
(202) 564-4790
fishburn.meredith@epa.gov

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