TRENTON — Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said at an Assembly hearing today that he doesn’t trust Exxon Mobil to clean up the mess its left behind in his town, anymore than he trusts “my 8 year old daughter to clean up her room.”
“It’s a travesty,” he said. “We have polluted estuaries and polluted creeks throughout our town.”
Armstead is in Trenton today testifying in front of the Assembly Judiciary committee on the state’s $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil, the oil giant largely blamed for leaving behind potentially billions of dollars in environmental damages at oil refinery sites across the state. Lawmakers have sought clarification on that deal since Gov. Chris Christie’s administration settled the state’s case with the company earlier this month, following years of sometimes tense litigation.
Environmental advocates have accused the administration of shortchanging the the state by not fighting for more money, citing experts’ estimates of Exxon’s liability amounting to close to $9 billion in pollution costs. The deal has also served as a flash point in the legislature, lining Republicans who have a called for calm in the face of outrage surrounding the settlement against Democrats who oppose it.
On Monday, the Senate passed a resolution condemning the deal and “strongly urging” a Superior Court judge to reject the final figure.
Armstead said his town in particular has been impacted by pollution at the hands of the corporation, which operated major refineries in places like Linden, Bayonne and Bayway over the last several decades. He noted one area of Linden in particular, near the refinery site off Southwood Ave., that still oozes oil and “smells horrific” during storms.
“When do have some fish and wildlife in our streams, but I’d never take them home for dinner,” he said.