EPA Begins Second Review of Hudson River PCB Cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated its second review of the cleanup of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site.

The first five-year review for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site was completed in 2012 and the EPA anticipates conducting reviews every five years well into the future.

After six seasons of in-river work, dredging to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy, New York, was completed in the fall of 2015.

The current five year review will include new data to be collected this spring and summer, including fish, water and sediment data. EPA will also use all available data for the project, including fish, water and sediment data collected since the last five-year review.

This five-year review will be one of a series of future reviews. It will evaluate whether the stated goals of the project are being met, or are expected to be met, based on the available data. Several more years’ worth of post-dredging data will be needed to understand the reduction of PCB levels in fish as a result of the project.

The five-year review will also include a review of the cleanup plan for the areas of PCB-contaminated sediment upstream of the areas targeted for dredging. These areas, known as the remnant deposits, became exposed after the river water level dropped following removal of the Fort Edward Dam in 1973. These areas are now capped, maintained, and monitored.

As part of the EPA’s commitment to conduct the five-year review in a transparent manner, in 2016 the EPA will hold public workshops with the Hudson River PCBs Site Community Advisory Group to discuss the second five-year review.

EPA expects to issue the second five-year review report in late 2016 or early 2017 and will make it available for public comment. The second five-year review will be completed by April 23, 2017.

Background 

Between 1947 and 1977, an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were discharged into the river from two General Electric capacitor manufacturing plants located in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York.

The dredging of the Hudson River was designed to occur in two phases. The first phase of the dredging project was conducted in 2009. The plan for dredging underwent extensive review by the EPA and General Electric Company at the end of the 2009 dredging season.

The plan was also reviewed by a panel of independent scientific experts at that time, and various stakeholders participated in that review, including the Hudson River Natural Resources Trustees, the Hudson River Community Advisory Group and members of the public.

The second and final phase of dredging began in June 2011 and concluded in fall 2015. During 2016 restoration of habitat areas disturbed by the dredging will be completed.

 

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