News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Groups Call Foul on EPA’s Approved Hudson River Demobilization Plan

Groups Call Foul on EPA’s Approved Hudson River Demobilization Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 12, 2015

Contact: Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Director, Clearwater, 845 807 1270, or [email protected]
Kate Kiely, NRDC Strategic Communications Manager, 212 727 4592, or [email protected]
Cliff Weathers, Communications Director, Riverkeeper, 914 478 4501, Ext. 239, or [email protected]
Jay Burgess, Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, 845 473 4440, Ext. 222, or [email protected]

CAPITAL REGION/HUDSON VALLEY— The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that, while some Superfund Site activities on the Hudson River will continue next summer, the agency has approved General Electric Co.’s (GE) plans to permanently remove and demobilize its massive dredging infrastructure. This approval comes just a few weeks after the public and other stakeholder groups were allowed to see the plan for the first time. In fact, according to leading environmental groups closely monitoring the dredging project progress for the past six years, the company has been in the process of decommissioning long before authorization to demobilize was made official today.

Even worse, this action takes place without clear determination of just how close the company will be to achieving the cleanup’s environmental goals when the project is complete. Communities all along the 200-mile Superfund Site expected and hoped the EPA would ensure GE would have removed enough toxic PCBs from the river bottom to achieve the health and restoration targets established a decade ago. Without this critical evaluation and allowing the company to take apart its highly engineered and complex dewatering operations, EPA has kicked the Hudson’s toxic PCB legacy far into the future and taxpayers will now bear the costs and the burden of cleaning up and restoring a polluted environmental and economic liability they did not create.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan stated, “GE and the EPA can issue statements about how much pollution has been removed, but that’s not the real story. The fact is that they are on course to leave hundreds of thousands of pounds of PCB-contaminated sediments behind that still pollute an American Heritage River. The Hudson remains deeply damaged by GE’s toxic legacy—and communities, businesses and people from all walks of life have been deprived of the full use and economic benefit of the river for nearly half a century. GE has responsibilities to do more than the EPA-ordered project, and packing up before the job is done right isn’t cause for celebration. Also, leaving state taxpayers with the bill to fix a shipping channel that GE’s pollution ruined isn’t fair.”

“Hudson River Sloop Clearwater believes this decision is premature and short-sighted, and will cause New Yorkers to fund new dewatering facilities and equipment, rather than reusing what is already in place. By not actively supporting a mutually beneficial, voluntary settlement agreement, EPA is allowing General Electric to decommission its facilities, which will ultimately cause a delayed recovery of the river, which will have real consequences for the environment and for people who, despite health advisories, eat fish from the Hudson,” said Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Executive Director Peter Gross.

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay stated, “This is unacceptable. EPA is effectively cutting the Federal Trustees off at the knees by allowing for the removal of the efficient and effective dewatering facility in Fort Edward before any Natural Resource Damages cooperative agreement is reached. Without this infrastructure in place, EPA has decreased the likelihood of a quick and effective dredging of the remaining 100-plus acres of PCBs in the Hudson River and the Champlain Canal. To resite, rebuild and remobilize a far smaller ‘temporary’ dewatering facility, if even possible, will only serve to unnecessarily prolong the damage GE is causing the river, our families and our economy. EPA cannot continue to claim ‘success’ on a job left unfinished.”

“GE’s work just isn’t done. Just last month, two other federal agencies—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the Fish & Wildlife Service—said its cleanup would not be enough to make the Hudson’s fish safe to eat for generations to come,” said NRDC Staff Attorney Dan Raichel. “GE must clean up the rest of the mess it made, and we intend to make sure it does.”

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