EPA Orders GE to Dredge PCBs from Hudson River

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman has announced the administration is proceeding with a major cleanup of the Hudson River. EPA has taken the next step in the process by forwarding the Record of Decision (ROD) to the State of New York for its three-week review of the dredging project that will remove PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the river.

Sent yesterday to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for its review, the ROD calls for dredging an estimated 2.65 million cubic yards from a 40-mile section of the river to remove approximately 150 thousand pounds of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). The PCBs were deposited over a 30-year period from two General Electric plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York, which manufactured electric capacitors.

A 200-mile portion of the Hudson River was declared a Superfund site in 1984 because of the widespread PCB contamination. PCBs bio-accumulate in fish and pose potential cancer and other health risks to people who eat the fish.

"We are going ahead with this important cleanup," said Whitman. "We will do so with a continuing open process that will involve all parties. The affected communities also will have the opportunity to comment on all siting issues."

As announced in August, the cleanup plan will include several performance standards. Two standards – those for air quality and noise – are included in the ROD, consistent with state and federal law. The rest of the performance standards, which will include resuspension and production rates during dredging, will be developed in a transparent process with public input and in consultation with the state and federal natural resource trustees.

"These enforceable performance standards, which will be based on objective environmental and scientific criteria, will promote accountability and ensure the cleanup meets the human and environmental protection objectives of the ROD," said Whitman.

Before these performance standards are finalized, EPA will ask an independent scientific peer review panel to evaluate them.


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