Final Cleanup Plan Issued for Housatonic River Project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its final decision on its Rest of River permit, which outlines a final cleanup plan for a 125 mile stretch of the Housatonic River from Pittsfield, Mass. through Connecticut.

The final cleanup plan is also referred to as the Final Permit Modification for Rest of River.

EPA’s cleanup plan follows an extensive public comment period and a dispute by the responsible party, General Electric Company (GE).

The plan takes all of the comments received through those processes into consideration.

The final cleanup will utilize a combination of targeted soil and sediment removal, riverbed capping and monitored natural recovery to address risks posed by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The cleanup plan requires GE to address PCB contamination that poses a health risk to the river and the impacted communities. This cleanup scheme outlines that GE will cleanup contamination in river sediment, banks, floodplain soil and biota that pose unacceptable risks to human health and to the environment.

EPA estimates that the cleanup will cost an estimated $613 million and will take approximately two years for initial design activities and 13 years for implementation.

“It’s important to note that the majority of the sediment and floodplain cleanup is targeted within the first 11 miles in the City of Pittsfield and the towns of Lee and Lenox,” EPA said.

Phasing the work will also disperse the effects of the construction activities over time and locations.

The cleanup plan was first proposed in June 2014 after extensive consultation with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (MassDFG), and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), as well as a lengthy series of technical discussions with GE.

Following a four month public comment period and EPA’s consideration of those comments, EPA notified GE of its intention to finalize the Permit in 2015. Then, in October 2015, GE initiated a formal dispute process regarding the cleanup of the river.

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