EPA tells GE to dig deeper

The federal agency is out with requirements for the next phase of the clean up of PCBs flushed into the Hudson River for decades by the company’s plants in Ft. Edward.

From the EPA press release:

The second phase of the cleanup – which is designed to address potentially cancer-causing chemicals released for decades from two GE plants into the Hudson – would require GE to remove far more contaminated sediment from the river before sealing or “capping” any remaining PCBs.  The decision follows months of consultation with GE, the State of New York and a wide range of stakeholder groups as the Agency analyzed technical information and decided how best to proceed with the second phase of the project. GE has until January 14, 2011 to review EPA’s decision and notify the Agency whether they will proceed with this phase of the cleanup, scheduled to begin in May 2011.

GE plants discharged approximately 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during a 30 period ending in 1977, contaminating nearly 200 miles of the Hudson River. These potentially cancer-causing chemicals can build up in fish over time, posing a serious risk to those who eat them.

“We’ve said from the start that a clean Hudson is non-negotiable, and the path we have laid out today relies on the best science to ensure this dangerous pollution is addressed in an effective way,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck. “EPA has advanced a PCB cleanup plan that will require the removal of huge quantities of PCBs, making the Hudson River cleaner for future generations.”

And:

Dredging during the second phase will go deeper into the sediment and, by relying on better information and lessons learned during the first phase, will remove more contaminated sediment in fewer passes.  Phase two will require GE to remove an estimated 95 percent or more of PCBs from the areas designated for dredging.

The Natural Rescources Defense Council sent this statement:

“Today’s announcement is a compromise. Under these cleanup standards, there’s no doubt we’ll have a much cleaner and healthier Hudson River than we do today – but in nearly a quarter of the remaining cleanup area, G.E. will still be allowed to cover over toxic waste that could be removed, with the ongoing risk of it being stirred up once again in the years to come. The spotlight is now on G.E. to move forward without delay and to do nothing less than these standards require once the cleanup begins.”

As the first phase began in 2009, Brian Mann went to the banks of the Hudson  to report this story. It’s an in-depth look at the the years-long epic, as it stood in May of that year. There’s lots more reporting at ncpr.org. Try our site search, under GE clean up.  (Advance apologies for the clunky search engine.)

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2 Comments on “EPA tells GE to dig deeper”

  1. Mark Behan says:

    Hi Martha — GE made a commitment eight years ago to cooperate with EPA to clean up the Hudson and its technical team has been working with EPA’s team for months to address the logistical issues involved in the second phase of dredging. GE is reviewing EPA’s plan and if it is consistent with these technical discussions, is based on sound science and is feasible to achieve, GE expects to move forward with the second phase of the project. More information at http://www.hudsondredging.com. Thanks, Mark

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  2. oa says:

    Love those PR-masticated code words, “sound science.”

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