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EPA Issues Cleanup Decision for 1-Mile Section of Housatonic River

Release Date: 11/21/2000
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued the agency's comprehensive cleanup plan for a 1-mile section of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield between the Lyman Street Bridge and the confluence of the river's east and west branches.


Additional Information and Resources
GE/Housatonic River Website
Related Information
Hudson River Region 2

The plan, first proposed in July, entails using dry excavation to meet EPA's cleanup criteria. About 95,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediments and bank soils will be excavated.. The technique involves cordoning off sections of the river with sheetpiling, or diverting the river by pumping the water through a pipe bypass, and then draining those sections so contaminated materials can be removed.

"Today's approval is another important milestone in this massive PCB cleanup of the Housatonic River and Berkshire County," said Mindy S. Lubber, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

Key elements of the cleanup plan include:

    • Consolidation of up to, but no more than, 50,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments at designated consolidation areas at the GE facility in Pittsfield.
    • Disposal of about 45,000 cubic yards of materials at an off-site treatment/disposal facility.
    • The riverbed will be restored using erosion protection materials, and, where feasible, sand and gravel layers to mimic existing grain size distribution in the river.
    • Riverbank restoration will be performed to mitigate damage created by the removal activity and to improve the existing condition of the riverbank habitat. Restoration will include revegetation with native species, bioengineered structures and erosion protection materials.
The approval comes four weeks after a federal judge gave final court approval to a 400-page Consent Decree, which serves as a blueprint for the massive PCB cleanup in the Housatonic River and Berkshire County. The Consent Decree was negotiated by EPA, General Electric and nine other federal and state agencies. The Consent Decree specifies that EPA will perform the cleanup work in the 1-mile stretch of river and General Electric will reimburse EPA, subject to a cost sharing agreement, for the cleanup costs.

The project is expected to begin after the cleanup of the upper -mile reach of the river is done. That project is expected to be finished by next summer.

General Electric contractors, under EPA oversight, will address contamination on floodplain properties adjacent to the river in the 1-mile reach.

Information on EPA's selected remedy is available at the following locations: