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Citizens Meeting in Pittsfield, Mass. Will Focus on Upcoming Clean Up Work at GE Housatonic River Site

Release Date: 09/07/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Pittsfield, Mass. – Sept. 7, 2006) - The next meeting of the Citizens Coordinating Council for the General Electric / Housatonic River site will be on Wed. Sept. 13th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield, Mass., and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

At the meeting, EPA, Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and General Electric representatives will provide updates on work completed over the past year under the Consent Decree; work expected to be completed by the end of this year; and preview work scheduled for 2007.

Over the past year, the agencies and GE have made significant progress in the cleanup of the site, including the completion of the “remediation phase” of the 1˝ Reach of the Housatonic River and the remediation and restoration of numerous floodplain properties and former oxbow areas along the river. In addition to the river and floodplain, work at numerous other areas of the site has progressed.

1˝ Mile Reach Section of the River

The EPA work to remediate the 1˝ Mile Reach section of the river required the removal of over 91,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment from the riverbed and riverbanks. This cleanup began in 2002 upon GE’s completion of the cleanup of the half-mile of the river adjacent to GE’s former manufacturing facility on East Street. Final restoration of the support areas, including Fred Garner Park, is on schedule to be completed by the end of October.

In coordination with this work, GE completed the remediation of the floodplain properties adjacent to the 1˝ Mile Reach. Under GE's work, approximately 14,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed from 31 residential properties and five recreational properties located along the river. GE's floodplain work began in 2005, remediation activities were completed in the summer of 2006 and final restoration of the recreational areas is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year.

Newell Street Cleanups

Under EPA oversight, GE completed the remediation and restoration of the former oxbow properties referred to as the Newell Street Area I and II sites. Specifically, GE addressed thirteen commercial properties at Newell Street Area I. The cleanup of these commercial properties, which began in 2003, resulted in the removal of approximately 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated material.

At Newell Street Area II, located at the corner of Newell and Lyman Streets and consisting of a former GE parking lot, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. and City owned properties, GE removed over 16,000 cubic yards of contaminated material. Over 3,000 cubic yards of heavily contaminated soil, several hundred capacitors, and more than 70 drums containing a mixture of solid and liquid material were disposed of off-site, and the remainder of the material was placed into the on-plant consolidation areas. GE also enhanced the existing PCB-contaminated oil (also referred to as “NAPL”) recovery system during this time with the installation of three new six-inch recovery wells on the property.

River Oxbows

GE also completed the remediation of Former River Oxbows J & K, which are located upstream of Newell Street. This involved the removal of approximately 2,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from 11 properties. Final restoration, which will consist of the planting of trees and shrubs, will be completed this fall.

Work began in July on the remediation of four commercial properties located on the Former River Oxbows A & C which are located downstream of Lyman Street and south of the river. In August, work began on three commercial properties located on the Former River Oxbow referred to as the Lyman Street Site. These three properties are located downstream of Lyman Street on the north side of the river. The work at both of these areas is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

On Plant Consolidation Areas

The remediation work described above resulted in material being sent to the on-plant consolidation areas (OPCAs) as well as to off-site disposal facilities. As a result of the material sent to the OPCAs from these cleanups, the Building 71 OPCA is nearly at its total capacity. GE initiated final closure and capping activities at this OPCA in late August and construction of the final cap is scheduled to be completed in the Spring of 2007. Soil from these remediation projects and building demolition debris from GE properties scheduled for transfer to PEDA was also placed into the Hill 78 OPCA this year. The Hill 78 OPCA is estimated to reach its full capacity in 2008, with its final cap to be completed in 2009.

Silver Lake Pilot

The Silver Lake pilot project, in which GE will be installing a one-acre cap in Silver Lake, is also planned for this fall. The results of the pilot will be used in the final design of the full scale cap for Silver Lake, which encompasses 26 acres. This capping pilot project will include the use of barges to place capping material on top of lake-bottom sediments. Public access to Silver Lake Boulevard may be restricted at times during the pilot project. At the CCC meeting, GE representatives will present more details on the pilot project and the potential impacts to the community.

Rest of River

The year also has seen considerable progress on the Rest of River portion of the Site. EPA completed the Responsiveness Summary to the Peer Review of the Model Calibration Report (January), issued the Model Validation Report for Peer Review (March), with the Peer Review conducted in June. In addition, GE submitted, and EPA approved the final Interim Media Protection Goals (IMPG) Proposal (March). With the IMPG Proposal finalized, once EPA completes the “Responsiveness Summary” for the Model Validation Peer Review, expected later this year, GE will begin development of the Corrective Measures Study Proposal.

In summary, the upcoming CCC meeting will provide the community and other interested parties the opportunity to have a detailed update on cleanup progress in Pittsfield. Also at the meeting, the council will review the meeting schedule for the coming year. EPA remains committed to our cleanup efforts within the community.

More information on EPA’s cleanup efforts in Pittsfield (http://www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html)

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