Congressman: Do Proper Hudson River PCB Review (USA)
Congressman Maurice Hinchey wrote U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith Enck to call for a more robust, thorough and detailed 5-year review of the Hudson River PCB remediation effort. EPA, which has become the target of politically motivated budget cuts from U.S. House Republicans, recently released a plan for a 1 month review of the decades-long cleanup effort.
Hinchey believes that timeframe should be lengthened to meet the standards set forth by EPA’s current standards on 5-year reviews.
“It is my understanding that EPA may be considering allotting just one month to complete the 5-year review. This would be a mistake,” Hinchey wrote. “Such a short time frame would undoubtedly limit what can be reviewed. In fact, EPA’s own documents recommend that ‘the five-year review process begin nine to twelve months before the scheduled planned completion date so that a site inspection and a comprehensive data and document review can be conducted by the five-year review team.'”
According to the EPA’s own guidance, the 5-year review process should include community involvement and notification, document review, data review and analysis, site inspection, interviews and protectiveness determination. Hinchey believes a one month time frame is unrealistic for such a comprehensive review.
Hinchey also criticized recent attempts by U.S. House Republicans to slash the EPA’s budget and threaten the agency’s ability clean up toxic sites, like the PCB’s in the Hudson. “It is shameful that the agency has been repeatedly subjected to spurious, politically motivated attacks of late,” Hinchey noted. “These attacks, along with attempts by House Republicans to slash EPA’s budget, not only undermine the agency’s efforts to protect our air and water, they also directly undermine EPA’s ability to carry out clean up efforts such as the Hudson River PCB remediation project.”
For the last three decades, Hinchey has led the fight, first in Albany and later in Washington, to force General Electric to pay for and clean up the 1.3 million pounds of PCBs it dumped into the Hudson River between 1947 and 1977. Dating back to his days as Chair of the State Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, Hinchey fought against numerous attempts to delay and narrow the clean-up process, and he worked tirelessly to make sure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held GE responsible for the cleanup. In 2011, Hinchey visited the upper Hudson River to laud the commencement of the second and final phase of the cleanup as a critical step forward in removing PCB contamination that has plagued the Hudson River for many decades.
Dredging Today Staff, April 15, 2012; Image: hudsondredging