PCB dredging a success so far, but advocates want more
FORT EDWARD Four environmental watchdog organizations are asking that the scope of dredging to remove PCBs from the upper Hudson River be expanded during the 2013 dredging season.
The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced that the third season of dredging by General Electric Co. contractors was the most successful so far.
A total of 650,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment was removed from the bottom of the upper Hudson between May and November, exceeding the 2012 dredging goal of 350,000 cubic yards.
“With the third season of dredging nearly complete, the EPA is almost half way toward its goal of removing 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson River,” says an EPA statement.
While the four environmental organizations applaud the success of the dredging done so far, they maintain in a joint statement that the scope of the project needs to be expanded next year to capture “large pockets of contamination that are currently not slated for cleanup.”
The environmental organizations include Scenic Hudson, The Hudson Riverkeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.
“In 2013, the project enters a phase of less thorough, more confined removal of PCBs, so critical planning would have to happen this winter to enhance the initiative and ensure that large amounts of toxins are not left behind,” the organizations say.
Gary Klawinski, the EPA’s Hudson River project manager, said Friday that the issue of expanding the footprint of the dredging has been discussed before.
He said the Hudson River PCB dredging project is the result of a legal record of decision that stipulates how much dredging must be done by GE. “It’s difficult for us to go outside of that,” he said.
The EPA in its five-year review of the original dredging decision found that the “remedy is still sound” and the scope of the dredge project is not expected to be expanded. He said there are still three or four seasons of river dredging to be done under the current decision.
GE capacitor plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward discharged an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson over a 30-year period ending in 1977 when the practice was banned by the federal government. In 2002 the EPA ordered GE to pay for and perform the approximately $870 million environmental dredging project.