Hudson River PCBs

Photo Courtesy John Norton

Photo Courtesy John Norton

Between 1947 and 1977, General Electric (GE) dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River. The source of the PCB discharges was two GE capacitor manufacturing plants located in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York, about 50 miles north of Albany. GE’s PCBs are now found in sediment, water and wildlife throughout the Hudson River ecosystem as far south as the New York Harbor. They are also found in people.

On May 15, 2009, after decades of debate, advocacy and negotiations, GE began Phase 1 of the long-delayed clean-up of those PCBs. Phase 1 dredging was scheduled to run for approximately 6 months in the upper Hudson and remove approximately 10% of the PCBs slated to be removed. Phase 2 will remove most of remaining targeted contaminants and operate for several years.

At the conclusion of Phase 1, various reports, evaluations and negotiations occurred as to the scope of Phase 2, with public involvement, pursuant to the agreement between GE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 2006 Consent Decree. In December of 2010 GE announced that it would perform Phase 2.

It is important to note that the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), a process that evaluates environmental damage and injuries associated with the GE PCB contamination, is ongoing. The NRDA will assess the damages caused by the PCBs that may be compensated, whether monetarily or through restoration projects, by GE.

Riverkeeper will continue its work to see that the full clean-up occurs, that the NRDA process is thorough and that the Hudson River is restored.

End of Phase I Fact Sheet

NYS Department of Health – Advice About Swimming in the Hudson River During Dredging

EPA’s Hudson River PCB’s Superfund Site Dredging Project Update Fall 2009 (5.2MB, PDF)




  • A Brief HistoryGE PCBs in the Hudson

  • Health Effects of PCBs

  • The end of a centuries-old way of lifeThe Impact of PCBs on the Hudson River Fishery

  • GE's Fight to Avoid the Cleanup

  • The EPA Plan

  • Status ReportDredging Update May 15

  • Comments on Phase I Dredging

  • Public Updates from EPA

  • Update:PHASE 1 DREDGING CONCLUDES!

  • Update: Phase 2 Dredging Begins

  • UPDATE: NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT

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