For decades old fertilizer plant sites in South Carolina owned by ExxonMobil released chemicals that contamination hundreds of acres of salt marsh. Now the company is paying for their crimes.
ExxonMobil will pay a $6.6 million settlement, as agreed upon between the energy giant and federal agencies. This will be one of the few times that a massive corporation will be held accountable for its role in the contamination and pollution of the environment.
The pollution came from old fertilizer plant sites that ExxonMobil acquired over two decades ago. The plants released a “cocktail of heavy metals while they operated along the Ashley River near Charleston and the Beaufort River near Port Royal,” reports The Charlotte Observer.
Most of the settlement money will go towards the restoration of the salt marshes and oyster reefs in the area. Most of the contaminated land has already been cleaned up by federal agencies. Most of the contamination was done long time ago and may date back as far back as the late 1800s.
The leaked chemicals included mercury, arsenic, lead, copper, and zinc, which are all dangerous to marine life. A lawsuit filed by the federal government states that the cocktail “damaged or destroyed fish, shellfish, aquatic animals, wildlife or plant life.’’
ExxonMobil has owned or owns at least nine old fertilizer plant sites in South Carolina but five of them were not found to pose a substantial threat to the environment.
Although ExxonMobil did not cause the contamination, when companies acquire polluted land they become responsible for the contamination.