New York demands that EPA not allow Hudson River cleanup
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A state study shows General Electric’s $1.7 billion cleanup of PCB contamination in the upper Hudson River is incomplete and not protective of public health and the environment, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
The Democratic governor demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency not issue a certificate of completion that would end Boston-based GE’s responsibility for cleaning the Superfund site.
“The health of the Hudson River estuary and the vitality of the communities along its banks are at stake and the EPA must not let GE off the hook for a job that is not done,” Cuomo said in a statement.
GE completed removal of 2.75 million cubic yards (2.1 million cubic meters) of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated river sediment in 2015. The company requested a certificate of completion from EPA more than a year ago.
Cuomo says the Department of Environmental Conservation’s 294-page report on the latest sampling data confirms PCB levels remain too high in fish and sediments. DEC launched a sampling effort in the summer of 2017 to assess the extent of contamination remaining. It sampled 1,700 locations and found in many areas, the average PCB concentration exceeded the 1 part per million level typically used by DEC for sediment cleanup projects.
The agency also collected nearly 230 fish samples and evaluated fish data generated by the EPA and GE during and after the dredging project. It found the average fish PCB concentrations in the upper Hudson in the two years after dredging are essentially the same as before the cleanup.
DEC and environmental groups have previously rejected the EPA’s five-year review, released for public comment in June 2017, and its conclusion that cleanup efforts were successful.
GE spokesman Mark Behan said that the company had analyzed the state’s data and found 99.8 percent of samples showed PCB concentrations below EPA’s threshold for requiring dredging. He said PCB levels are down 96 percent in sediment samples, as much as 78 percent in water samples and 58 percent in fish species that people might consume.
“The data show conclusively that the Hudson River dredging project is working as the EPA and New York state predicted,” Behan said. “EPA has predicted these declines (of PCB levels) will continue over the next several years as the full benefits of dredging are realized.”