More Needed to Remove Hudson River PCBs, New York Tells EPA

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By Gerald B. Silverman

Aug. 22 — More work is needed to remove polychlorinated biphenyls from the upper Hudson River despite the completion of a six-year dredging project by General Electric Co., the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) told federal regulators Aug. 22.

The department, in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, said the dredging project left behind too much PCB contamination in the upper river.

“The job is not done and the remedy as implemented may not achieve the targeted reductions of PCB levels in water and fish tissue within the time frames originally anticipated by EPA,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.

The move by the state is unusual because the Democratic administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) has been largely supportive of the EPA.

The state is now essentially siding with environmental groups, which have been urging the EPA to require General Electric to conduct additional dredging as a responsible party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act or Superfund.

“EPA must ensure the remediation conducted by General Electric is effectively protecting public health and the environment from exposure to PCBs,” Seggos said.

General Electric

Mark Behan, a spokesman for General Electric, said the company “addressed 100 percent of the PCBs targeted by EPA, removing twice the volume of PCBs as had been anticipated.”

“Dredging was completed in October 2015, EPA declared the project a success and said no additional dredging is warranted,” he said in statement.

General Electric has spent more than $1 billion to remove 2.7 million cubic yards of sediment and 310,000 pounds of PCBs.

The EPA, in a statement, said it welcomes the state's continued involvement in the five-year review process that is currently underway for the Superfund project. It said a number of the state's concerns were addressed in March, when it responded to concerns from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“As is widely understood, it is not possible for the fish to recover immediately after the conclusion of dredging,” EPA said. “That recovery will take decades.”

Both NOAA and DEC are natural resource trustees under the Superfund cleanup and track the impacts on wildlife and other natural resources.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gerald B. Silverman in Albany, N.Y., at gsilverman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

The state's letter is available at: http://src.bna.com/hVd

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