Judge backs NJ’s $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil over decades of pollutions

 Cleanup workers lay down absorbent sheets to soak up No. 2 heating oil on bird sanctuary Pralls Island between Linden, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York, in January 1990. Up to 567,000 gallons of oil leaked from an underwater Exxon pipeline into the Arthur Kill waterway. A New Jersey judge Tuesday approved the Christie administration's $225 million settlement with Exxon over that spill -- and decades of pollution. (AP file photo)

Cleanup workers lay down absorbent sheets to soak up No. 2 heating oil on bird sanctuary Pralls Island between Linden, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York, in January 1990. Up to 567,000 gallons of oil leaked from an underwater Exxon pipeline into the Arthur Kill waterway. A New Jersey judge Tuesday approved the Christie administration's $225 million settlement with Exxon over that spill -- and decades of pollution. (AP file photo)

A New Jersey judge has approved the Christie administration’s $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil to resolve liability over dozens of polluted sites and nearly 2,000 gas stations.

 

Judge Michael Hogan ruled that while the agreement is far less than the estimated $8.9 billion in damages, it’s a reasonable compromise given the substantial litigation risks the state would face at trial.

The settlement ensures Exxon’s cleanup obligation at the contaminated sites, said New Jersey’s acting Attorney General John Hoffman.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak, an outspoken opponent of the settlement, described the decision as a huge setback.

“New Jersey is not going to get the necessary resources to restore all the damage that has been done to the ecosystem, to the waterways, to the wetlands and to the marshlands that protect North Jersey —  my area in Elizabeth and Linden and Bayonne — from storm surges,” said Lesniak, D-Union.

Lesniak and environmental groups opposed to the settlement say they’ll appeal the judge’s ruling.

Doug O’Malley is the director of Environment New Jersey.

“This settlement still stinks, and we’re still going to fight it because there’s been a disregard of a generation of pollution at hundreds of Exxon facilities around the state,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “New Jersey deserves better.”

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