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Forum to Unify Upriver and Downriver Communities in Call for More Comprehensive Hudson River PCB Cleanup


Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Natural Resources Defense Council
Scenic Hudson

Contact: Jay Burgess, Scenic Hudson, 845 473 4440, Ext. 222; [email protected]

Community leaders and environmentalists to call on GE not to abandon river cleanup with only 65% of the job done

HUDSON VALLEY—As General Electric (GE) prepares to decommission its multimillion-dollar infrastructure for the cleanup of toxic PCBs in the Hudson River, upriver and downriver officials and community leaders are joining environmental advocates in ramping up public pressure for GE to address its additional responsibilities related to the cleanup. Because current cleanup plans only address 65 percent of the PCBs in the Upper Hudson River, if the company shuts down its cleanup operations by next fall as anticipated, it will leave behind significant pollution in the Hudson that could block the river’s recovery and waterfront revitalization plans for generations. If GE won’t accept responsibility for its toxic legacy, New York State taxpayers will end up paying the bill for the crucial cleanup work.

Forum on Nov. 11 at Marist College Boathouse
To inform and mobilize residents and public officials in calling on GE to do the right thing for the environment and our communities, a forum to discuss these issues is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Marist College Cornell Boathouse, on the campus’ Hudson River waterfront. Welcoming remarks will be made by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and additional speakers will include state Senator Kathy Marchione, Hudson Valley Tourism President Mary Kay Vrba, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan, Riverkeeper President and the Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay, Riverkeeper Attorney Abigail Jones, Natural Resources Defense Council Attorney Daniel Raichel and Clearwater Environmental Director Manna Jo Greene. A roundtable discussion will feature upriver business and community officials speaking about what action—or inaction—by GE will mean to downriver communities. Seating will be limited, so the public should register at For more information, contact Scenic Hudson at 845 473 4440, ext. 272.

GE’s obligations extend beyond current court-ordered cleanup

Next fall—two years ahead of schedule—GE is expected to conclude its court-ordered cleanup, supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, every Superfund site in the country requires the polluter to do two things: (1) clean up the mess they made and (2) compensate the public for the injury and loss of services from severely polluted natural resources. This second responsibility, called the Natural Resource Damages (NRD), can either be accomplished after site remediation is completed or concurrently with the cleanup efforts. There are many benefits to voluntarily addressing NRD obligations at the same time that cleanups are underway, and doing so is an emerging trend for polluters.

The damage done by GE’s contamination of the Hudson is evident: its once-thriving commercial fishing industry now has been defunct for 40 years; the Champlain Canal has been virtually closed to deep-draft navigation for the past 20 years; and tourism has been diminished by the stigma of PCB pollution.

Hudson River environmental and community representatives want GE to conduct critically needed dredging in the Hudson’s PCB-laden navigational channel and address 136 additional acres of highly contaminated river sediments already identified as a cause of delay for the river’s full economic and environmental recovery. Both of these issues already are identified as likely to be included in GE’s liability for NRD, so dealing with them now would be cost-effective for GE if the efforts are integrated into the current dredging scope of work.

Having suffered losses connected to a tarnished natural resource, taxpayers could bear costs again
Much of the additional acreage GE is being called on to address is within 200 feet of the area already designated by the EPA for remediation and includes sections of the navigation channel in the Upper Hudson River. If New York State has to do its own navigational dredging to restore full use of the channel by commercial shipping vessels, those costs, which are much higher than normal due to the PCBs, will fall to New York State taxpayers. Coordination now would promote efficiency, reduce potential costs for GE and assure a world-class cleanup.

The people and the communities negatively impacted by the river’s toxic contamination already have waited 30 years for GE to make things right—too long to wait for half-measures. That is why at the Nov. 11 forum, there will be a call for a more comprehensive cleanup now, before GE’s personnel and substantial cleanup infrastructure are removed. This is imperative to hasten the full recovery of the river and river-based economic resources by generations and to minimize the cost to the public for additional and necessary in-river dredging. This is why negotiations regarding GE’s natural resource damage liability should start now to ensure that this critical dredging begins as soon as possible.

GE has a golden opportunity to lead the economic resurgence of upstate New York’s river towns. By ensuring navigational access to shoreline facilities, these communities once again will be able to pursue business opportunities of all kinds—recreational and commercial. The community and environmental advocates stand ready to work alongside GE and other partners to foster riverside business development and new public access points along the Hudson River.

The Nov. 11 forum is sponsored by the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Sierra Club.


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