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Leading Environmental Organizations Applaud Resumption of Hudson River PCB Dredging

For Immediate Release

Contact: Rebecca Troutman
914-478-4501 x 241

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – The three leading environmental advocacy organizations in the Hudson Valley—Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson—applauded today the decision by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resume dredging of PCBs around Fort Edward, NY with enhanced engineering controls at dredging locations to reduce spillage of material back into the river and re-suspension of PCBs.

Dredging was halted on Friday, August 7 after General Electric (GE) notified the EPA that regularly monitored water testing results exceeded a safety limit set at 500 parts per trillion. GE is undertaking Phase 1 of the PCB clean-up at a cost estimated to be $750 million because of decades of dumping the toxic chemical into the Hudson River. PCBs were banned in the U.S. in 1977.

“We support the EPA’s decision to add additional protective measures and make adjustments,” said Rebecca Troutman, senior counsel of Riverkeeper. “Our goal is a safe, comprehensive clean-up, including both Phase 1 and 2. Any minor delays are trivial in the historic context.”

“The EPA is doing an excellent job of monitoring the clean-up to ensure that the dredging is conducted in a manner that protects the environment, water supplies and workers,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson. “We commend the agency for halting the clean-up and now restoring operations with enhanced controls. We look to GE to complete this phase in a manner that protects the environment and public health. Every aspect of this clean-up has GE’s fingerprints on it, including the dredging technology, the level of preventative measures, and the PCB disposal methods. Scenic Hudson and our partners have called for more stringent measures to minimize the re-suspension of pollutants. Effective implementation of the clean-up is within GE’s hands. An effective and complete clean-up will demonstrate the company’s claims that it is the leading environmental technology company in the world.”

Clearwater, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and many other environmental groups in the Hudson Valley fought for decades to get GE to clean up the PCBs in the Hudson River, and they remain committed to this landmark remediation effort. All agree that removing these toxins will improve the health of the river, thus making the Capital Region and Hudson Valley more environmentally and economically viable. Without the cleanup, 500 pounds of health-threatening PCBs are released downriver every year.

Environmentalists understand the clean-up of PCBs in the Hudson is a massive, complex undertaking, and that minor stoppages of the dredging can be expected, and the issues triggering them will be quickly identified and resolved. The EPA has extensive monitoring protocols in place for safeguarding the river, people’s health, drinking water and wildlife.

Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of Clearwater, said: “We commend the EPA’s action—they did not have to stop the dredging, but elected to err on the side of caution by stopping until sediment resuspension was minimized, and then resumed slowly and carefully to try to prevent reoccurrences. This action is exactly what was needed to ensure the protection of public health and the ecology of the Hudson River.”

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