Contact Us

Newsroom

News Releases from Region 2

 

EPA Submits Final Report on First Phase of Hudson River Dredging For Independent Scientific Review; 45-day Public Comment Period Begins Today

Release Date: 03/08/2010
Contact Information: Kristen Skopeck (518) 747-4389 or cell (518) 681-2428, skopeck.kristen@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) After completing the first phase of dredging PCB-contaminated sediment in the upper Hudson River, EPA today released a detailed technical assessment of the work to a panel of independent scientific experts for review. The EPA report and a similar one prepared by the General Electric Company (GE) are being submitted to the panel in accordance with the agreement under which GE performed the first phase of the dredging, to ensure that the Hudson River dredging project is evaluated using the best scientific and technical information. The EPA report details the effectiveness of the first phase of dredging, as well as the challenges encountered during the first dredging season. It also lays out the Agency’s modifications to the engineering performance standards for dredging resuspension, residuals, and productivity proposed for the second phase of the project, set to begin in 2011.

“The Hudson River is a magnificent resource that has been negatively impacted by PCB pollution for decades,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The completion of the first phase of dredging, while not without problems, has gone very well and is moving us closer to achieving the goal of a cleaner Hudson River. The problems in Phase 1 will be addressed during the careful scientific review, which is now underway.”

During the independent peer review, EPA is also seeking public comments on the reports, which replace draft versions released last month. These comments will be provided to the panel members for consideration during their evaluation.

The panel has been asked to consider certain questions relating to the engineering performance standards and the monitoring program for Phase 2 of the project. EPA’s report includes the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s observations and recommendations as an appendix. The peer review panel will publicly discuss its views on the EPA and GE reports in May 2010. The panel members will then submit their individual views on the questions presented to them by EPA; these views will be compiled into a report, which is expected to be complete by the end of June.

Once the peer review report is completed, EPA will consider the panel’s recommendations and determine whether changes to the performance standards should be made. EPA will inform GE about any modifications required during the second phase of the dredging project, and GE will then have the option to agree to conduct Phase 2. If the company agrees to perform Phase 2, the work will be carried out under the terms of the consent decree. If GE does not agree to conduct the Phase 2 dredging, EPA fully reserves all of its enforcement authorities, including its right to direct the company to perform the dredging and/or sue in district court to require GE to perform Phase 2 or to reimburse EPA for its costs if the Agency conducts Phase 2 using government funds.

EPA’s report will be posted on the Web late this afternoon at http://www.hudsondredgingdata.com/report, and GE’s report can be found at http://www.hudsondredging.com. EPA encourages the public to submit comments on the evaluation reports at a designated Web site, http://www.hudsondredgingdata.com/comments. The public can comment from any computer with Internet access, including computers at the Agency’s Hudson River Field Office in Fort Edward, at libraries, or at the information repositories established for the site. The Web site allows members of the public to print copies of their comments and receive a confirmation that their comments have been received. In addition, written comments can be mailed to the Hudson River Field Office at 421 Lower Main Street, Hudson Falls, New York, 12839.

From approximately 1947 to 1977, the GE discharged as much as 1.3 million pounds of PCBs from its capacitor manufacturing plants at the Hudson Falls and Fort Edward facilities into the Hudson River. The primary health risk associated with the site is the accumulation of PCBs in the human body through eating contaminated fish. Since 1976, high levels of PCBs in fish have led New York State to close various recreational and commercial fisheries and to issue advisories restricting the consumption of fish caught in the Hudson River. PCBs are considered probable human carcinogens and are linked to other adverse health effects such as low birth weight, thyroid disease, and learning, memory, and immune system disorders. PCBs in the river sediment also affect fish and wildlife.

Information about the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/hudson. Residents with questions are encouraged to contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Kristen Skopeck at 518-747-4389, skopeck.kristen@epa.gov, or the project’s hotline number at 1-888-596-3655. Information repositories for this site include the following: Crandall Public Library, 251 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY; Adriance Memorial Library, 93 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, NY; Superfund Records Center, EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY; Saratoga County EMC, 50 West High Street, Ballston Spa, NY; Hudson River Field Office, 421 Lower Main Street, Hudson Falls, NY; Edgewater Public Library, 49 Hudson Avenue, Edgewater, NJ; NY State Library, CEC Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY.

For a Google Earth aerial view of the Hudson River PCBs dredging project area go to: http://www.epa.gov/region02/kml/hudson_dredging_project_area.kml
(You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit
http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html).

10-030