EPA won't compel GE to restart Hudson River dredging

April 11, 2019 07:28 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has declined to compel General Electric to restart dredging in the Hudson River, despite calls from New York officials and environmentalists.

EPA Regional Administrator Peter Lopez said Thursday more time and testing are needed to fully assess GE's $1.7 billion Hudson River cleanup. The federal agency issued a certificate to Boston-based GE that it completed its remedial action under the Superfund cleanup.


However, Lopez said the certificate does not leave Boston-based GE "off the hook" for more work if the EPA later concludes additional cleanup is needed.

"The best analogy I can use is like surgery. So, we went in and we did a very intense operation. We removed massive amounts of PCBs, now we are waiting to see what happens to the patient after we've conducted that operation to see if the patient will heal. If the patient doesn't heal and shows other symptoms, we have to come back and revisit the procedure," said Lopez.

Critics had urged the EPA to withhold the certificate, saying river PCB levels remain too high. In response to the EPA issuing the certificate, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the State plans to sue the EPA. 

Cuomo released the following statement on Thursday:

"The Hudson River is the lifeblood of communities from New York City to the Adirondacks but we know PCB levels remain unacceptably high in the riverbed and in fish. Since the EPA has failed to hold GE accountable for fulfilling its obligation to restore the river, New York State will take any action necessary to protect our waterways and that includes suing the EPA to demand a full and complete remediation. Anything less is unacceptable."

GE completed removal of 2.75 million cubic yards (2.1 million cubic meters) of PCB-contaminated river sediment north of Albany in 2015.

The EPA says as part of their agreement with GE the company will be required to continue monitoring and testing the river, sediment and fish on a regular basis. Lopez said a Certificate of Completion of Work could still be 50 years away.

GE Statement on EPA Hudson River Decision

Today’s decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirms GE successfully completed the Hudson River dredging project. EPA concluded that the dredging project was effective in reducing PCB levels and said these declines are expected to continue.

GE will continue to collect environmental data to assess ongoing improvements in river conditions and to work closely with EPA, New York State, and local communities on other Hudson environmental projects.

During six seasons of dredging, GE removed twice the volume of PCBs from the river than EPA expected. As a result, as EPA reported, more than 99 percent of sediment samples taken by New York State in the Upper Hudson met the standard EPA set for the project. GE invested $1.7 billion in the project and, as EPA confirmed, has met all of its commitments.


AP and Jacquie Slater

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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