General Electric Corp. (GE) has agreed to prepare an analysis of the actions required to remove recently discovered polychlorinated biphenyl contamination (PCB) contaminated sediments from the Hudson River and report its findings to shareholders, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced.
The analysis will be completed by the end of 2013. In response to the agreement, DiNapoli withdrew a shareholder resolution calling on the company to do such an evaluation.
“GE deserves praise for getting in front of this problem and exploring the benefits of additional dredging,” DiNapoli said. “The company has agreed to analyze its potential exposure in the event that the EPA determines that PCBs remaining in the river pose an unacceptable risk to public health or the environment. It is much better to act sooner rather than later.”
The resolution was filed in response to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report released last June on GE’s remediation efforts which found that PCB concentrations were higher than expected in areas not targeted for additional dredging and may further harm natural resources. The recently discovered contamination was not subject to remediation under the current Superfund cleanup. The report said additional dredging would achieve EPA’s goals more quickly and reduce the time the environment would be exposed to PCB concentrations above the cleanup goal.
The newly discovered PCB contamination may pose a material risk to the company because the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) mandates that parties responsible for the release or potential release of hazardous substances are liable for any remedy deemed necessary and the broad range of damages that may result.
By reaching the agreement with DiNapoli, the company is reducing its exposure to such liabilities and protecting shareholder value.
A 2002 Record of Decision (ROD) released by the EPA for the Hudson River Superfund Site called for the removal of approximately 2.65 million cubic yards, or 65 percent of the PCB contamination, through dredging at 99 locations. The dredging, with a projected cost of $446 million, is expected to be completed by 2018.
In 2005, GE entered an agreement with the EPA to remediate PCB contamination in the Hudson River after the company dumped approximately 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river over a 30-year period ending in 1977.
Press Release, March 12, 2013