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EPA and General Electric Update Hudson Dredging Agreement

Release Date: 01/26/2009
Contact Information: Kristen Skopeck (518) 747-4389, skopeck.kristen@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that the federal government has reached an agreement with the General Electric Company (GE) to modify a November 2, 2006 consent decree requiring the company to dredge portions of the Hudson River. The modification of the 2006 consent decree requires GE to pay a portion of the costs of protecting the Waterford, Halfmoon, and Stillwater, New York water supplies during dredging, and to improve its program for monitoring water quality and further protect the Waterford and Halfmoon water supplies. Notice of the modification was published in the Federal Register today, beginning a 30-day comment period, which concludes on February 25. Dredging is scheduled to begin in the Hudson River this spring.

EPA is also updating the community health and safety plan, which protects communities along the river during the Hudson River cleanup work. The plan, which will be available soon for review, is being updated to include contact information to assist community members who have questions or concerns about dredging operations. In addition, it will detail the criteria that will be used to decide when Halfmoon and Waterford should use their alternative water supply. EPA will take comments on the revised plan for 30 days following its release to the public.

The towns of Halfmoon and Waterford currently get their drinking water from the upper Hudson River. Because there is a remote chance that dredging could impact the quality of the towns’ drinking water, EPA is constructing a four-and-a-half mile-long water line from Troy to Halfmoon and Waterford that will be used, if needed, as an alternate water source during dredging of the upper Hudson. The water line, which is estimated to cost $8.2 million to construct, is on schedule to be completed by April 2009, before dredging begins in May. EPA will also construct and maintain a temporary granulated activated carbon treatment system to protect the village of Stillwater’s drinking water supply during the Phase 1 dredging.

The agreement calls for GE to pay up to $7 million toward the cost of the water line and the Stillwater treatment system. EPA will also pay Waterford’s and Halfmoon’s increased water use fees for purchasing water from Troy during any periods in which PCB levels in the Upper Hudson River exceed protective standards, or when there is insufficient time to get water monitoring results before water travels from the dredging locations to the water supply intakes.

The modified agreement also makes adjustments to the plan to monitor water quality during dredging activities. Specifically, GE will use a quicker analytical method that will yield results sooner and allow more time for EPA to notify Halfmoon and Waterford if water quality analyses show levels of PCBs above drinking water standards. In addition, the revised monitoring program will be more efficient and will lessen impacts on navigation.

In addition, the new provisions of the agreement require GE to pay EPA for some costs that EPA might incur reimbursing Halfmoon and Waterford for increased costs of purchasing water from Troy during the second phase of the cleanup, should GE elect to perform that phase of cleanup. The initial phase of dredging will be taking place approximately 30 miles upstream from the water intakes of the towns.

EPA invites the public to attend any of three informational meetings scheduled to explain the consent decree modifications and updates to the community health and safety plan:

  • January 28 at the Moreau Community Center, Moreau, N.Y. from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • January 29 at the Fort Edward fire station, Fort Edward, N.Y. from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • The modifications will also be discussed at the next meeting of the Hudson River Community Advisory Group on Feb. 5 from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at the William K. Sanford Library, Loudonville, NY

Further information about the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site can be found at http://www.epa.gov/hudson/. The consent decree modification is available on the Department of Justice’s Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html or on the EPA’s Hudson River project Web site at http://www.epa.gov/hudson. The modified Community Health and Safety Plan will be available soon on EPA’s Hudson River PCB project Web site. Hard copies of both documents will be available at information repositories in Glens Falls, Fort Edward (EPA Hudson River Field Office), Ballston Spa, Albany, Poughkeepsie, New York City (EPA Region 2 offices), and Edgewater, New Jersey. For more information on Superfund, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund.

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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