ExxonMobil Filled in a Tidal Wetland on Newtown Creek in 1977…

NCA has been examining the history of the 400 Kingsland Avenue property, currently owned by ExxonMobil, but it is likely to go on the market for sale soon as Exxon seeks to alter their Greenpoint Oil Spill pollution discharge system. Recently obtained documents help shine light on outstanding questions regarding a former tidal wetland inlet on the 400 Kingsland viagra prescription Avenue site and how it was (legally) filled in, however, questions regarding ownership of the former wetland remain.

In 1977 Mobil Oil applied to New York State Department of Conservation for a permit to fill in a tidal wetland that was previously used for barging at their 400 Kingsland Avenue property. 

The refineries had closed in the 1960s, but Mobil still had extensive petroleum storage operations nearby and was seeking to repair their entire shoreline. To save on construction costs Mobil proposed to build a new bulkhead along the mouth of the inlet, effectively damming off what was part of the Creek and eliminating underwater and tidal habitat.

In late June 1977, notices of a public hearing for the permit application were posted in local newspapers, asking people to respond to the ads if they intended on attending a public hearing scheduled for overnight levitra July 12, 1977 at Two World Trade Center.

The New York Times July 22, 1977 Issue
The New York Times July 22, 1977 Issue

Here are two excepts from the Public Hearing Notice:

The hardship that the petitioner suffers is that continued deterioration of the existing bulkhead may require the petitioner to curtail product receipt by barge and subsequently reduce personnel and create product shortage.

All persons, corporations, or civil divisions of the State of New York, who have objections to the execution of said plans, in order to be heard thereon, must file a notice of appearance of such desire to be in writing and in duplicate, specifying the precise grounds of support of or opposition to the petition, with the Tidal Wetlands Permit Administration at Two World Trade Center 61st Floor, NY, NY 10047 on or before the 6th day of July 1977… If no notices of appearance are filed, the hearing may be canceled.

NYSDEC granted the permit on August 3, 1977, and the bulkhead was constructed soon after.

In the permit, NYSDEC indicates that no one responded to the newspaper postings and no one from NYSDEC objected to the application—the hearing was canceled.

Letter attached to the Permit from NYSDEC to Mobil on August 3, 1977

NYSDEC granted the permit on August 3, 1977, and the bulkhead was constructed soon after. This allowed Mobil Oil to legally fill-in the remainder of the former inlet to be used as a parking lot, equipment storage, and construction lay down area, which they completed in 1981/1982. 

Letter from Mobil Oil Corporation to NYSDEC to request a complete fill-in for the 400 Kingsland Ave tidal wetland inlet

The permits which prioritized Mobil’s bottom line over considering how the project would  “Adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of the people of the State or the Natural Resources of the State” were granted a year before the discovery of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.

Mobil Oil was the primary responsible party for the spill, the largest terrestrial spill in US history which has posed significant health risk to the health, safety and welfare of local residents and Natural Resources. In addition to the significant human health and environmental harm posed by the Oil Spill, and Mobil Oil’s responsibility for the catastrophe, the 400 Kingsland avenue property also soon transitioned away from petroleum storage (rationale for the bulkhead permit) and towards remediation. 

While the documents Mobil submitted to NYSDEC detail the legal process by which Mobil was permitted to fill in Newtown Creek and eliminate a tidal wetland area, they do not clarify questions regarding property boundaries and ownership of the former tidal wetland inlet. On every tax map that NCA has examined the inlet is still mapped as part of the waterway, and not the 400 Kingsland property.

If the former inlet is not legally part of the 400 Kingsland property then how can ExxonMobil use the land? How can ExxonMobil potentially sell a former wetland if they don’t own it?

We are very concerned about ExxonMobil’s current permit application with NYSDEC and that will allow the company to move remediation operations off of the 400 Kingsland property and then sell the 10 acre site to the highest bidder (including an unmapped former wetland area).

You can also view and download the information about the 400 Kingsland Ave wetland fill-in below.

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