Lawsuit Over Hudson River PCB Cleanup

Photo by Ned Sullivan/Scenic Hudson

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violating federal law when it issued a “Certificate of Completion” to General Electric Company for Hudson River PCB Cleanup.

As reported, the EPA issued the certificate to GE on April 11, 2019, finding that the company’s required cleanup of PCBs from the river was complete, despite evidence that concentrations remain dangerously high in portions of the river.

According to Cuomo and James, on the day the EPA issued the Certificate of Completion, the EPA’s Five-Year Review found that the cleanup was not adequately protective of human health and the environment.

In the release they said that the EPA concluded that the Agency does not have sufficient information to even determine if or when the cleanup would meet this standard. For this and other reasons, the lawsuit charges that the EPA’s issuance of the Certificate of Completion to GE is beyond the Agency’s legal authority and should be vacated.

The Hudson River is among New York’s most precious natural and economic resources, but despite years of dredging, levels of PCB contamination are still unacceptably high in the river and in fish. We have an obligation to protect the health and vitality of both the Hudson River and the communities along its banks for current and future generations,” Governor Cuomo said.

The facts are clear: Hudson River fish remain much too contaminated with PCBs to safely eat, and EPA admits they don’t know when – or if – they ever will be. EPA can’t ignore these facts – or the law – and simply pronounce GE’s cleanup of PCBs complete,” said Attorney General James.

The Hudson River PCB Superfund site encompasses a nearly 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River from Hudson Falls, New York, downstream to the Battery in New York City.

The site is divided into two major areas: the Upper Hudson River, which runs from Hudson Falls downstream to the Federal Dam at Troy (a distance of approximately 40 miles); and the Lower Hudson River, which runs from the Federal Dam at Troy 140 miles downstream to the southern tip of Manhattan at the Battery in New York City.

In February 2002, the EPA finalized a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Upper Hudson River Superfund site to address the contaminated river sediments.

The EPA’s 2002 ROD selected sediment dredging of highly-contaminated areas to address PCB contamination in the Upper River. GE implemented targeted dredging of approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment pursuant to the terms of a 2006 Consent Decree, under EPA oversight.

This dredging began in spring 2009 and was completed in fall 2015.

 

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