On Wednesday, January 16, 2013 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Clearwater, NRDC, Riverkeeper, and Scenic Hudson presented a Hudson River General Electric PCB cleanup update for Mid-Hudson communities, entitled “Hudson River PCB Forum,” at the Marist College Boathouse.
The federal and state agencies involved with General Electric’s cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River presented on the progress, the success, and the lessons learned during the first three years of dredging in the Upper Hudson.
Speaker after speaker confirmed that PCB removal is the best solution to ensure the Hudson will recover and become a vigorous natural and economic resource for the people and communities throughout the Hudson River Valley and the State. And many of the speakers spoke to GE’s successful dredging operations, which to date, has exceeded the expectations of the original cleanup plan.
But as a report from the Natural Resource Damages Trustees (also released on Jan. 16, 2013) confirms, the entire extent of the Hudson River is “extensively contaminated” and these “high levels of PCB contamination have existed for decades, and continue to exist, in the Hudson River ecosystem” and “present a serious and long-term threat to the health of the entire Hudson River ecosystem.” This contamination reaches “surface waters, sediments, floodplain soils, fish, birds, wildlife, and other biota” – to say nothing of its impact on the people along the Hudson River, who, for example, eat certain types of fish and wildlife from the river.
For more than 50 years, millions of pounds of highly toxic PCBs have polluted the lands, waters and wildlife of the Hudson River Valley. This contamination has threatened the health of generations of New York residents, forced the closure of commercial fishing industries, restricted the navigability of the river’s historic shipping channel, and tainted the reputation of the State’s outdoor recreational economy.
From the beginning, the goal of the PCB cleanup in the Hudson River has been to remove as much of the toxins as possible. But as Riverkeeper has pointed out time and time again, GE’s cleanup plan will leave behind areas of PCBs that are likely to recontaminate the River. As the Trustee’s report makes clear, despite GE’s “success” with its remediation to-date, the Hudson River’s water, sediment, and fish and wildlife still exceed certain regulatory thresholds for PCB content (sometimes by as much as 100 times).
Press Release, January 23, 2013