Local group wages David-and-Goliath battle to build historic fort replica

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The fort that protected the swift-flowing St. Lawrence River through three of America's pivotal early wars is again engaged in battle. This time the struggle is between the world's largest oil company, Exxon-Mobil, and a local non-profit group that says it has been stalled and stymied for more than four years in its attempt to build a life-size replica of the Abbe Francois Picquet's 1749 Fort LaPresentation on Lighthouse Point.

The 26-acre site is heavily contaminated with petroleum products left behind by Exxon-Mobil, which merged in 1998 but whose predecessor companies operated a shipping terminal in Ogdensburg from the late 1880s until 1984.

Exxon-Mobil joined a consent order with state regulators in October 2003 to clean up the parcel. Company spokesman Brian Dunphy said Exxon-Mobil expects to begin excavating soil at the site this fall, although the technical details still need to be settled. He denied Exxon-Mobil has tried to thwart development of the replica fort.

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