Exxon Mobil will pay $225 million for contamination at refineries and other polluted sites across New Jersey under a settlement state officials are calling “historic.”
The deal between the state and the Texas oil giant ends more than a decade of litigation over the environmental damage at two refineries, known as Bayway and Bayonne, which have seen leaks, spillage and dumping of harmful chemicals going back to the late nineteenth century.
The agreement has been a source of controversy in recent weeks because the state claimed the oil giant owed it $8.9 billion for the pollution at a trial last year, but quietly settled just before a judge was to rule in the case.
State officials published the full text of the agreement in the New Jersey Register Monday, starting off a public comment period before the deal goes before a judge.
“This proposed settlement meets the goals we set for this case, which were to recover an amount certain that fairly and reasonably compensated the State for natural resource damages, and reinforce ExxonMobil’s requirement to clean up the Bayway and Bayonne sites,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman in announcing the deal.
The settlement also clears Exxon’s liability for pollution at 16 other industrial sites and hundreds of gas stations around the state, according to a copy of the agreement. The company also admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
“Some of these sites are pretty contaminated on their own,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, calling the agreement “an even bigger giveaway” because the other sites weren’t included in the original suit.
The state Department of Environmental Protection assessed the value of the contamination at those other facilities around $5 million.
Representatives for the company declined to comment on the details of the agreement.
The settlement also reserves the state’s right to file suit over surface water damages in Arthur Kill or Newark Bay, and over the discharge of a hazardous gasoline additive, known as MTBE, at 860 of the company’s current and former service stations.
The agreement is in addition to the ongoing cleanups at Bayonne and Bayway under a consent order reached in the early 1990s.
“On top of the historic payout for this natural resources damages settlement, there is no cap on what ExxonMobil must spend to complete the remediation work,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.