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There’s an Oil Spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn?

A sunset view of NYC from Greenpoint, Brooklyn

For three decades BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron have been slowly cleaning up a giant oil spill trapped beneath the ground in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint, New York.  CNN Senior Correspondent, Allan Chernoff, reported that BP, Exxon Mobil and Chevron did not directly spill most of the oil; they inherited their respective properties in Greenpoint from predecessor companies they had acquired. But, they now hold responsibility for the cleanup.  Don’t these oil companies have a responsibility to clean up the oil faster?

I know a few things about Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  It is a vibrant, predominantly Polish neighborhood. While close in proximity to Manhattan, the G train to get to Greenpoint is a commuter’s worst nightmare; but the difficult trip to this enclave is worth it, if not solely to visit Dandelion Wine’s Thursday evening free wine tastings.  What I did not know is that there is about 14 million gallons of oil trapped in the ground, sitting on top of the water table, across more than 50 acres of residential and industrial blocks of Greenpoint.

Chernoff reports that this environmental mess dates back to the 1860s when oil refineries dotted the landscape along Newtown Creek.  For a century, oil companies operated in the neighborhood, allowing petroleum to seep into the ground and spill into the water.  Now the residents of Greenpoint are complaining of health effects and wondering why the clean up has taken so long.

Watch the CNN video for more details.  And to my friends in Greenpoint; talk about it, organize around it and hold the oil companies responsible so that you and Greenpoint have a healthy, vibrant future.

Written by Emily DeMasi

Emily McKinin DeMasi is a 2011 MBA/ MA Public Policy candidate and Peace Corps Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her thesis work concerns Corporate Social Responsibility in the United States. She also works as a Research Fellow at Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in downtown Pittsburgh. Emily has worked as an Associate in a Private Equity Placement Firm in NY and as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in Ivory Coast, West Africa. She hopes to combine her business background with her passion for development and inspire others in the fields of Sustainability and CSR.

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