News > News > Stop Polluters > Contaminated Sites > Riverkeeper statement: Governor and Attorney General warn of a lawsuit if EPA deems Hudson River dredging complete

Riverkeeper statement: Governor and Attorney General warn of a lawsuit if EPA deems Hudson River dredging complete

For immediate release: December 14, 2017
Contact: Cliff Weathers, Communications Director
cweathers@riverkeeper.org; 845-445-8257

OSSINING, N.Y. — Today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said New York will take immediate legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if they accept the Upper Hudson River dredging of PCBs as complete. According to a press release by the Governor’s office, Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will sue the federal government to ensure the dredging is completed. The state is also prepared to withdraw from the 2002 Record of Decision which guided the cleanup. An EPA decision is expected soon.

Despite EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s promises to focus on the Superfund program and the cleanup of toxic sites, EPA attempted to ignore huge delays in meeting short-term targets for less toxic fish in its proposed five-year review of the initial phase of the clean up. An expert for Riverkeeper showed that the target for fish to be edible for one meal every two months — expected to occur within five years of dredging — may not be realized for up to 27 years, and the target for fish to be edible for one meal per month — expected to occur within sixteen years of dredging — could take over 40 years to occur.

“We are glad Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman have issued this timely warning to EPA that it dare not declare General Electric’s efforts to date to be a success,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “EPA must make GE finish its half-done cleanup job or it will have failed to deliver what New Yorkers were promised under EPA’s own 2002 cleanup plan.

“The evidence shows the work to date is not protective of human health or the environment. A decision by EPA to accept the cleanup as it stands would fly in the face of that evidence. We cannot accept an outcome that will leave Hudson River fish toxic for generations,” said Gallay.

“Today’s statement by Governor Cuomo clearly demands GE do much more to clean the Hudson River of the toxic PCBs it put there over half a century ago,” said Riverkeeper Legal Director Richard Webster “For too long, GE prevaricated, misdirected, and sued, while doing no clean up. More recently, it did a clean up project in the upper 50 miles of the river that was too little and too late, but it continues to do nothing in the lower 150 miles. It also enlisted EPA to help in its effort to escape before the job is done, leaving river residents holding the toxic fish. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and the NY Attorney General’s office for stepping up and fighting for a healthy Hudson, and we look forward to working with them to ensure that the Hudson River is cleaned up.  GE must restore Hudson to health for all New York State residents.”

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