Senators Call for Expanded Hudson River Dredging

Senator Brad Hoylman and 24 of his colleagues in the State Senate are calling on corporate giant General Electric to commit to a full remediation of the Hudson River after its decades-long dumping of toxic PCB chemicals.

In a letter to the company’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, the lawmakers urged G.E. to go beyond its court-mandated obligations to help clean up the Hudson River by expanding dredging to include the Champlain Canal and other parts of the river in need of restoration.

The Senators argue that a failure to do so would result in economic, environmental and health-related hardships on the people of New York.

As members of the New York State Senate, we urge you to commit to continuing the Hudson River PCB dredging operation beyond the current dredging season and conduct a full cleanup of Hudson River PCBs,” the letter to Immelt states. “The presence and long term impact of PCB contaminants that will be left behind when General Electric completes the EPA-mandated cleanup is well documented by the Federal Trustees charged with overseeing the river. Failure to continue the cleanup effort will result in severe economic, environmental, and public health impacts.

The Senators sent a similar letter to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urging his administration to publicly support a full cleanup by G.E. of Hudson River PCBs. The State Department of Environmental Conservation is one of three “natural resource trustees” of the Hudson River.

Senator Brad Hoylman said: “G.E. has only cleaned up 65 percent of the Hudson River. As the party responsible for polluting this treasured state natural resource, it’s G.E.’s responsibility to finish the job. Anything less than a full cleanup would be a dereliction of G.E.’s corporate and civic responsibility to the people of New York.”

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said: “Now is the time for G.E. to commit to a comprehensive restoration of the Hudson – for the health of the river and the region’s economy and to protect New York’s taxpayers from footing the bill to clean up the company’s toxic mess.”

Dan Raichel, staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said: “If GE doesn’t take this opportunity to finish the job and do it right, future generations of New Yorkers will be forced to continue bearing the costs and burdens of its toxic legacy in the Hudson. GE has the moral and legal obligation to clean up the Hudson the right way. The Senators’ letter today shows our elected representatives are demanding that GE meets that obligation.”

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said: “Riverkeeper stands with the people, businesses, and civic leaders along the Hudson in demanding that GE address the millions of pounds of toxic PCBs it dumped into our river by continuing dredging until the job is complete. GE wants to end its clean-up without addressing the remaining PCB hot spots it’s responsible for as part of its Natural Resource Damages liability.  If it stops now, the river will be far from restored.”

Clearwater Executive Director Peter Gross said: “Clearwater, as a flagship organization dedicated to the protection and health of the Hudson, applauds the legislators who are speaking out in the letter. We endorse and join in the forthright and well-informed demand that GE – a company that tries to position itself as caring about the environment and public health – must finish cleaning up the toxic mess it made in the Hudson River.”

The letters were signed by Senators Hoylman, Joseph Addabbo, Tony Avella, Neil Breslin, Adriano Espaillat, David Carlucci, Leroy Comrie, Ruben Diaz, Jesse Hamilton, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Tim Kennedy, Liz Krueger, Bill Larkin, George Latimer, Velmanette Montgomery, Marc Panepinto, Kevin Parker, Jose Peralta, Bill Perkins, Gustavo Rivera, James Sanders, Diane Savino, Jose Serrano, Daniel Squadron and Toby Stavisky.