9. The Newtown Creek Oil Spill is One of the Largest in U.S History

After the Greenpoint explosion in 1950, the entailing investigation concluded that the blast was instigated by chemicals which had been leaking from industrial facilities in Greenpoint since the 19th century. However, no efforts were made to clean up the contamination and it continued to leak into the creek unabated.

Until 1966, Mobil (currently ExxonMobil) had over 35 facilities in the area. In 1978, a United States Coast Guard helicopter on a routine patrol spotted a streak of petroleum flowing into the creek. It was eventually discovered that, over the course of the decade, between 17 to 30 million gallons of oil and petroleum had leaked from the 1,491 sites that operated in the area. That is twice as large as the Exxon Valdez disaster which released 11 million gallons of crude oil off the coast of Alaska, and 9 million gallons more than the oil spills that covered the coast of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The contamination area also exceeded 50 acres, making it one of the largest oil spills in U.S history.

In 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the Creek a Superfund site, and ExxonMobil, one of the main polluters, paid $25 million to help with the cleanup. Since then, ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron have pumped out roughly 12 million gallons of oil –what is estimated to be half of the pollution – from the canal and surrounding area.