USA: GE Proposes Dredging, Sampling, Modeling to Set Final Standards on Hudson River Project

GE today submitted comments on the report issued by a panel of independent scientists who evaluated the Hudson River dredging project and recommended major changes after finding that the project did not and could not meet the performance standards established by EPA. GE thanked the panel for setting forth a road map for a process to improve the project.

The report reinforced that key assumptions made about the project were wrong, including assumptions about the quantity of PCBs that the process of dredging would send downstream. GE’s evaluation showed the first phase of dredging released significantly more PCBs downstream than EPA had forecast and led to increases rather than reductions in PCB levels.

As recommended by the peer review panel, GE has offered to conduct additional dredging in 2011 in order to evaluate process modifications that could reduce resuspension and to collect data necessary for EPA to establish new performance standards for the second phase of the project.

GE also endorsed these key findings in the report:

• That new performance standards should be established for productivity, resuspension and residuals and that more information must be collected before the final Phase 2 performance standards can be set;

• That the dredging-driven resuspension and redeposition of PCBs is occurring and that limits should be imposed on the quantity of PCBs that the dredging process is allowed to send downstream;

• That a state-of-the-science computer model to forecast river conditions should be jointly developed by EPA and GE, peer-reviewed and used to guide future decisions on the project;

• That the productivity standard governing the pace of dredging should be subordinate to the other two engineering performance standards governing resuspension and residuals (the quantity of PCBs in sediments after dredging is completed.)

GE believes EPA’s decisions on final performance standards and on the scope of Phase 2 should follow the collection and analysis of the information recommended by the peer reviewers, including data collected during the additional season of dredging that GE has offered to conduct in 2011.

Consistent with the recommendations of the peer reviewers, GE also has advised EPA that it will be prepared shortly to begin collecting additional sediment samples in the river to identify the location and concentration of PCBs in future dredging areas. GE is awaiting EPA approval of its sampling plan. GE also has made available to EPA its Hudson River computer model developed by one of the nation’s foremost modeling experts, which the peer reviewers said might be a good platform for development of a joint model.

GE remains committed to working with EPA to improve the dredging project so that it results in a reduction in PCB levels, achieving the goals set forth by EPA in its 2002 Record of Decision.



Source: businesswire, August 31, 2010