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Acquisition of Wetlands in Staten Island an Eco-Smart Investment; Deal Result of EPA Settlement
Release Date: 07/26/2006
Contact Information: EPA - Richard Cahill (212) 637-3666, firstname.lastname@example.org U.S. Attorney's Office - Robert Nardoza (718) 254-6323, email@example.com
(New York, NY) An ecologically critical 16-acre tract of tidal wetlands in northwest Staten Island will be preserved as the result of a 2002 Consent Decree with the former Mobil Oil Corporation negotiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The tract, located on the west shore of Staten Island at the intersection of the Arthur Kill and Neck Creek near Meredith Avenue, is across the West Shore Expressway from Meredith Woods Park. The City of New York will take over responsibility for its protection. Ultimately, the land will be accessible to the public.
Wetlands serve as a natural filter to harmful chemicals in our waters. They provide storm protection and erosion control, as well as food and habitat to numerous fish and other wildlife. About 80% of the harbor's tidal wetlands and underwater lands have been lost to filling, dredging, and other human activities. The acquisition of this property is a key incremental step in the preservation of the remaining ecologically important sites. The action is consistent with the goal set in 2003 by the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program, a multi-stakeholder program authorized by the Clean Water Act, that aims to acquire or preserve 2,700 acres of habitat by 2009.
“Preservation of tidal wetlands is a top environmental goal of the Bush Administration,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “Acquiring this particular marsh in the New York City Harbor area is a smart investment for the local ecology and the citizens of Staten Island.”
“Today’s acquisition provides significant environmental benefits for the community and demonstrates our steadfast commitment to preserve the delicate balance of our ecosystem,” stated United States Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf.
“Staten Island’s tidal wetlands are referred to as the “Everglades of New York City,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “They serve as feeding ground for 40 percent of the wading birds, such as herons and egrets in the region. This acquisition brings us closer to completely protecting the entire tidal wetland system in the area.”
The $1 million used to purchase the tract of wetland is part of a 2002 Consent Decree between the federal government and the Mobil Oil Corporation(now Exxon/Mobil) involving an extremely significant hazardous waste case. In that case, the United States alleged that the Mobil Oil Corporation illegally stored and disposed of benzene-contaminated wastes at Port Mobil, a major petroleum product storage and distribution terminal in the Arthur Kill section of Staten Island. In addition to requiring that Exxon/Mobil acquire or restore environmentally sensitive lands associated with the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, the Consent Decree required that Exxon/Mobil admit liability and pay a penalty of$8.2 million. Exxon/Mobil is obligated to spend an additional $2 million on the acquisition or restoration of land associated with the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary for purposes of preservation. For more on wetlands, go to: https://www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit organization that negotiated and facilitated the real estate transaction, selected the wetland from a list of desirable sites compiled by federal, state, local government and environmental groups. TPL identified the site as a critical acquisition priority in its 2001 study, “An Islanded Nature”, a joint publication with the NYC Audubon Society.
NOTE TO EDITORS: A picture of a portion of the wetlands acquired today can be viewed on the EPA Region 2 Web site homepage at: https://www.epa.gov/region02
or contact Rich Cahill to request a digital version of the photo.