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“An Historic Day for an Historic River”; EPA Announces Start of Hudson River Dredging

Release Date: 05/15/2009
Contact Information: Kristen Skopeck (518) 747-5869 or (518) 681-2428 (cell), skopeck.kristen@epa.gov or Bonnie Bellow (646) 369-0062 (cell), bellow.bonnie@epa.gov

(Fort Edward, N.Y.) The long awaited and historic dredging of the Upper Hudson River to remove PCB-contaminated sediment began today near Roger’s Island in Fort Edward, NY. The start of the first phase of the six-year dredging project, which is being conducted under an agreement with the General Electric Company, was marked today by officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York State, elected representatives, and a broad group of community representatives and environmental stakeholders at a river’s edge ceremony in Fort Edward.

“The start of Hudson River dredging is a symbol of victory for the environment and for its river communities,” said George Pavlou, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. “Dredging will help restore the health of the river, and will one day allow people to eat fish that are caught between Fort Edward and Albany. This is an historic day for an historic river.”

“This is another chapter in the story of a river coming back from the brink,” Governor David A. Paterson said. “Forty years ago, the Hudson River was a poster child for pollution, mocked as an open sewer. But through the Clean Water Act, the upgrade of wastewater treatment plants and increased public vigilance fostered by the growing public interest in environmental protection, the Hudson has steadily improved and it is cleaner than it has been in decades. Today, we mark another step forward in the reclaiming of this river for the people and communities of New York.”

The dredging and related work will be conducted by GE under the terms of a November 2006 consent decree. EPA will oversee all aspects of the work; dredging will continue through October 2009, weather permitting. At the conclusion of this first phase of the project, an independent panel of experts will review the results of the dredging and potentially make recommendations for changes that may be incorporated throughout the remainder of the dredging, which is targeted for completion in 2015.

This first phase of the dredging project will be conducted 24 hours a day, six days a week and targets the removal of 265,000 cubic yards of sediment and 20,300 kilograms of PCBs from a six-mile stretch of the river between Roger’s Island and Thompson Island. Sediment removed from the river will be carried by barge to a dewatering facility located on the Champlain Canal in Fort Edward. At this facility, water will be squeezed from the sediment and treated to drinking water standards before being returned to the canal. The remaining PCB-laden dirt will be loaded onto railcars for ultimate disposal at a permitted landfill facility in Andrews, Texas. The entire project will remove an estimated 1.8 million cubic yards of sediment and 113,000 kg of PCBs.

“We have come such a long way over the more than 25-year life of this project, and we could not have reached this day without the participation of literally thousands of people who care about the Hudson River and its legacy,” Pavlou added.

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.

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).

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