Richie Garrett addresses a crowd of 100,000 New Yorkers at the first Earth Day.
The federal government passes the Clean Water Act which requires a water quality certification from the state for any federally licensed facility that discharges into a state’s water body. Any facility that discharges pollutants into surface waters must obtain a permit from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).
HRFA starts a Riverkeeper program, appointing Tom Whyatt as the first Riverkeeper.
The Coastal Zone Management Act is passed, providing for the establishment of coastal zone management programs to protect estuaries and coastal waters.
HRFA collects a $200,000 penalty from Anaconda Wire and Cable in Hastings-on-Hudson, but ends up with only $20,000 after several federal agencies petition for a portion of the bounty.
High levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are found in Hudson River fish. Since 1946, General Electric (GE) has dumped two million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson from its Fort Edward and Hudson Falls plants.
New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) begins an administrative enforcement proceeding against GE for illegally releasing PCBs from 1972-1975. HRFA, Clearwater and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) join as intervening parties. GE is found guilty of two of three charges and required to create a $7 million clean up fund, build pollution abatement facilities, and discontinue its PCB use by 1977.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires Hudson River power plants at Indian Point, Roseton, Bowline to install the “best technology available” (closed cycle cooling) to reduce their impacts on Hudson River fish. Their antiquated once-through cooling systems suck in river water and kill billions of fish in the process each year.
The DEC bans all recreational and commercial fishing (except for baitfish) in the upper Hudson from the Fort Edward Dam to the Federal Dam at Troy because of PCB contaminated fish. Hudson River commercial fishing is banned from Fort Edward to the Battery, with the exceptions of baitfish, Atlantic sturgeon over four feet, goldfish, and American shad.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is passed, establishing protocols for the safe disposal of toxic waste and making illegal any violations of these protocols.