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GE IS BALKING AGAIN!!

GE plant and Hudson River

Photo courtesy Riverkeeper and Giles Ashford
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Last week, the company proposed a year delay on deciding whether to commit to a full clean-up of the Hudson!

Unbelievably, after dumping over a million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson for 30 years, creating the largest toxic waste site in the United States, and spending many millions of dollars on political, legal and PR maneuvering and delay, GE is saying it doesn’t want to commit now to Phase 2 cleanup of the Hudson River. The company offered to commit only to one more year of dredging, while gathering additional data – and only then to decide whether to perform rest of the cleanup.

Following the first phase of the cleanup, GE suggested changes for the next phase that would result in less dredging and more “capping” (covering remaining PCBs still in the sediment), a technique that federal and state agencies warn is not a permanent solution, and in some areas, is an obstacle to navigational use of the river. EPA, along with Riverkeeper and other groups, has advocated for a more thorough removal even if it takes longer.

Throughout this year, EPA and GE have engaged independent scientific experts in a “peer review” process, to help identify the lessons learned from Phase 1. These experts agree that with adjustments a successful Phase 2 will result. We agree, and add that in designing Phase 2, science, not corporate interests, should guide the cleanup. Also, as the expert panel recommended, EPA should build-in opportunities for fine-tuning the project, throughout the years needed for Phase 2, if more information becomes available. However, decisions should not be based on GE’s hypothetical “break even point” at 20 years when GE spent three decades dumping toxic PCBs into our river, and those PCBs persist today, poisoning fish, wildlife and unfortunate human consumers. Moreover, EPA scientists point to many problems with GE’s calculations and note that the long-term health of the river spans a far longer time period than 20 years!

The dredging revealed much higher levels of contamination than had been estimated, making it all the more crucial that GE and EPA finish the full job: Even if that requires more than the five-years that had been estimated. It’s now up to the EPA – and the public – to put the spotlight on GE and see that it meets its legal and ethical obligations… and commits NOW to getting the job done right.

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