News > News > Stop Polluters > Contaminated Sites > Hudson River coalition firmly rejects findings in EPA’s draft third five-year report for the Hudson River PCBs superfund cleanup

Hudson River coalition firmly rejects findings in EPA’s draft third five-year report for the Hudson River PCBs superfund cleanup

Groups call on the public and elected representatives to speak out during the public comment period as EPA disregards its own data showing cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River fails to protect public health and the environment

Hudson River Valley – Environmental organizations and a broad coalition of Hudson River advocates vehemently oppose the findings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) most recent review of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site. Released today, the draft third Five-Year Review (FYR) report irresponsibly concluded that a “protectiveness determination” cannot be made at this time and more data is needed to determine if the dredging of PCBs in the Hudson is meeting the expectations of the original cleanup plan. EPA’s position turns its back on the clear goals set forth in the 2002 Record of Decision (ROD) and contradicts environmental justice policies intended to ensure cleanups at polluted sites like the Hudson River address decades-old environmental injustices in disadvantaged communities.

For over 30 years, General Electric (GE) dumped cancer-causing Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River, turning a 200-mile stretch of the waterway into one of the country’s largest Superfund sites. This toxic pollution has burdened the entire region for generations – making it unsafe to consume the river’s fish, shutting down its fishing industry, and compromising its ecological health. Communities of color, immigrants, and economically disadvantaged populations more often rely on fishing in the Hudson River as a primary source of food, bearing the burden of increased exposure to PCB-contaminated fish.

The groups point out the cleanup remedy undertaken in the Upper Hudson as part of the 2002 ROD was designed to rapidly reduce the dangerous health risks from PCBs to humans and wildlife living in and near the river and to quickly restore the ecological and economic health of the river systems. However, despite six years of dredging (2009-2015), unacceptable amounts of PCBs were left in the river.

The Friends of a Clean Hudson (FOCH), a coalition of national, state, and regional organizations including Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Sierra Club, Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, and NRDC, has been fighting for decades for the restoration of the Hudson River. The FOCH conducted an independent analysis of EPA’s own data and reached a far different conclusion from EPA. The report, released in November 2023, finds that neither fish nor sediment are recovering at the rates needed to achieve the goals established in the ROD. In June 2024, the FOCH released an addendum to the November 2023 report to provide additional analysis of PCB concentrations in fish and sediment.

While the coalition acknowledges that EPA may issue an updated addendum potentially in 2025, EPA must take steps now to reevaluate the cleanup remedy to determine that it is not protective of human health and the environment. The current risks to human health and the environment from PCB contamination remain at unacceptable levels. A broad array of other organizations, individuals, and elected officials, including NYS Congressional Representatives, NYS Senator Gillibrand, and the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, have joined the FOCH in calling on EPA to acknowledge that the remedy “is not protective of public health and the environment.”

The persistent nature of PCBs ensures that GE’s toxic waste will continue to travel throughout the Hudson River, resisting degradation, biomagnifying in food chains, and bioaccumulating in human and animal tissue. At the current rate, and without additional actions, the health risks and impacts of those living, working, and playing within a heavily polluted Superfund site along a nearly 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River will persist for future generations.

The draft third FYR for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site is available for public review at the EPA’s website. Public comments on the draft report will be accepted until October 8, 2024. The FOCH coalition will prepare materials and engagement opportunities to help the public and public officials understand the results of the FYR and participate in the public comment process. Sign up here for updates and more information.

Riverkeeper Communications Manager
Lewis Kendall, [email protected]
914-478-4501 ext. 238

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