EPA finalizes cleanup plan for Housatonic River

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Revised Final Permit for the Rest of River cleanup plan of the Housatonic River.

The Revised Final Permit, issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), spells out the required cleanup measures to be followed by General Electric Company (GE) to remove contamination caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The Revised Final RCRA Permit Modification (Revised Final Permit) updates EPA’s 2016 cleanup plan for the river, its floodplains and other surrounding areas.

EPA’s remedy as outlined in the Revised Final Permit is protective of human health and the environment and will result in more contaminated sediment removed from the river and surrounding areas than EPA’s previous 2016 decision.

The Revised Final Permit requires GE to clean up contamination in river sediment, banks, and floodplain soil that pose unacceptable risks to human health and to the environment.

The excavated material will be disposed of in two ways: materials with the highest concentrations of PCBs will be transported off-site for disposal at existing licensed disposal facilities, and the remaining lower-level PCB materials will be consolidated on-site at a location in Lee.

The cleanup is estimated to cost $576 million, and will take approximately two to three years for initial design activities and 13 years for implementation.

As part of the agreement, GE will initiate sampling and design activities during any appeals, allowing for remediation to begin two to three years earlier than if these design activities were suspended during appeals.

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

More Info

Photo: Scenic Hudson