A coalition of environmental groups that supports a proposal to dredge PCBs from the Hudson River fears the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added "performance criteria" to the plan without public input.
Friends of a Clean Hudson will meet with the EPA next week to clear up what it perceives to be discrepancies in statements made by the federal agency.
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman in August backed a plan to clean the upper Hudson, saying it would track last year's draft $460 million proposal to dredge up to 2.65 million cubic yards of sediment to remove PCBs, a suspected carcinogen.
The EPA believes 1.1 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls are in the river, most dumped by General Electric Co. factories at Fort Edward and Hudson Falls over a 30-year period ending in 1977.
In August, Whitman said the EPA "intends to incorporate the draft cleanup plan with a series of performance standards by which the cleanup will be evaluated regularly." The standards include measuring PCB levels in the soil, water, and in fish, and the percentage of dredged material that is resuspended in the river.
Using the criteria, the EPA said it will determine at each stage of the project whether to continue.
In a Sept. 18 letter to Scenic Hudson, part of the environmental coalition, Whitman said the EPA is currently circulating for interagency review a draft proposal that includes "the incorporation of a series of performance standards."
Scenic Hudson's Jean McGrane said her group is afraid the EPA draft already contains specific performance criteria.
The coalition supports performance standards but says they "must be developed in an open, public process during the design phase."
The environmentalists also are concerned the plan is being changed while Gov. George Pataki, a supporter of the river cleanup, is involved with the World Trade Center disaster.