PCBs have become a factor in transportation along the Champlain Canal, Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports. The state once regularly removed sediment accumlated at the bottom of the canal, but has not done so since 1980 when it was determined that PCB contamination made the cost of disposing that sediment too expensive.
Today, some parts of the canal are just three feet deep, where 10 to 12 feet are considered minimums for barges and tugboats. The shallowness of the water restricts the flow of cargo.
There’s a major obstacle to improving the canal – a 60-mile stretch of the waterway is not covered by the dredging plan that GE and the federal government agreed on in 2002.
GE Spokesman Mark Behan says maintaining the canal system is New York State’s responsibility. Canal Corporation Director Carmella Mantello says the Canal Corporation doesn’t have the funds to perform its own dredging.
Besides the environmental and health concerns associated with toxic PCBs, there are people and businesses along the canal being affected more with easch passing week. Over 630-thousand cubic yards of sediment buildup is not included in the 2002 cleanup agreement, and EPA officials have said it is unlikely that the agreement will be reopened to include the canal.
Source: publicbroadcasting, July 14, 2010;