Campaigns & Cases > Stop Polluters > Hudson River PCBs

Hudson River PCBs

GE PCB dredging

Photo courtesy John Norton 2009

The Hudson River remains the largest Superfund site in the country, largely due to General Electric dumping an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River between 1947 and 1977. The source of the PCB discharges were two GE capacitor manufacturing plants located in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York, about 50 miles north of Albany.

Though the devastating impacts on the river remain and have possibly increased based on recent studies, public awareness about the severity of the damage has waned. Scientific studies are showing that cleanup efforts are not successful to the degree projected, and the likely spread of PCBs down the Hudson River has only increased over time.

GE’s PCBs are still found at dangerous levels in sediment, water and wildlife throughout the Hudson River ecosystem as far south as the New York Harbor. These PCBs are also found in people.

In May 2023, EPA plans to release its draft Third Five Year Review (FYR) of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site for public comment. The FYR is legally required under the Superfund law, with updated reports by the EPA issued at five-year intervals, reporting on the status of the cleanup and if it is working as intended and is protective of people’s health and the environment.

As part of the upcoming FYR, EPA will review fish, water and sediment data collected between 2017 and 2021. This five-year review will evaluate whether the stated goals of the cleanup are being met, or are expected to be met, based on the available data.

However, the studies and cleanup have focused primarily on the upper Hudson River, north of Troy. The landmark 2009-2015 dredging project removed PCBs from “hotspots” in a 40-mile stretch of the Upper River above Troy, but nothing further has been done to address contamination in the Lower River. Fish throughout the Superfund site remain hazardous to eat, and the dredging has had little to no effect on PCB levels in fish below the Troy dam.

For years, Riverkeeper, partner organizations and those who support the health of the River have been pressing EPA to expand these studies to the lower Hudson as the likelihood of GE’s PCBs have migrated south, contaminating the River to its most southern points in New York Harbor.

Fortunately, in 2022, EPA announced a legal agreement that directs GE to fund a study of contamination throughout the Hudson, covering the entire 160-mile stretch from the Federal Dam at Troy south to the Battery in New York City. Riverkeeper continues to advocate for a Remedial Investigation of the Lower River, which is the gold standard for investigating the nature and extent of contamination at a Superfund site, designed to lead to a cleanup decision. Learn more about the study here and watch a recording of EPA’s May 24 public information meeting here.

Read recommendations from Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson to the EPA about the Lower Hudson River study.

Find more information on the EPA web page for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site >

It is important to note that the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment, 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 cleanup occurs, that the NRDA process is thorough and that the Hudson River is restored.


Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and a coalition of partners request meaningful public engagement for Lower Hudson PCBs study

PCBs study will examine contamination in Hudson River from Troy to NYC

  • A Brief History: GE 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, 2009

  • Comments on Phase I Dredging

  • Public Updates from EPA


  • Update: Phase 2 Dredging Begins


Sign up for E-Alerts

Enter your email to receive Riverkeeper E-Alerts

Don't let New York State give up on New York City waters
Become a Member