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Tell the EPA to hold GE responsible for the full cleanup of the Hudson River

GE plant and the Hudson River

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Over the course of 30 years, General Electric dumped more than 1.3 million pounds of dangerous toxic chemicals called PCBs into the Hudson River, one of the most important and cherished rivers in North America. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency declared a 200-mile stretch of the river a federal Superfund site — the largest such site in the nation.

PCB contamination decimated commercial fishing in the Hudson, and health advisories still recommend strict limits on eating fish from the river. Yet for decades GE has fought against cleaning up its PCB contamination. Over the years, the company has claimed that the toxic PCBs aren’t harmful, that the river would clean itself, and that a cleanup couldn’t be accomplished — all of which have since proved untrue.

But a landmark 2002 EPA decision spurred GE to design a plan to remove more than 800 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of PCB-laden muck from the river. After more delays, last fall GE finally completed “Phase 1” of the cleanup, roughly 10 percent of the job. This initial phase showed that a successful cleanup of the Hudson River is possible.

Remarkably, however, GE is once again seeking to delay the process and avoid making a commitment to finish the cleanup. While GE has offered to continue work next year, it is now asking the EPA for permission to retain the right to walk away from the rest of the second and final phase of the cleanup. If GE eventually opts out of completing this “Phase 2” — which experts estimate could require seven to nine years more work — huge amounts of PCBs would continue to pollute the river.

The EPA is ultimately responsible for making sure GE fully cleans up its toxic mess. We cannot lose this opportunity to finally clean up the PCB contamination and help return a healthier and economically productive Hudson River to communities that live along its banks.


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