On Monday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), and Rep. Pat Ryan (NY-19) wrote a letter to EPA leadership calling for further action to ensure the complete cleanup of pollution in the Hudson River by General Electric (GE) following the announcement of a settlement between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and GE. The Congressmen applauded EPA leadership on this critical next step in addressing the impact of PCB pollution in the Hudson and reiterated their calls for comprehensive remediation.
“For years, I’ve been demanding the EPA take more action to hold GE accountable for the decades they spent dumping more than a million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson,” said Maloney. “I’m pleased to see both the EPA and GE taking this matter seriously, but it is crucial that this settlement is just the first step in a process that leads to accountability and complete cleanup of the Hudson River.”
Under a legal agreement with the EPA, GE will investigate the Lower River portion of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site to determine next steps for addressing contamination. Under the terms of the legal administrative agreement, GE will immediately develop a plan for extensive water, sediment, and fish sampling between the Troy Dam and the mouth of the New York Harbor. While polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) will be a focus of the data collection in the Lower Hudson River, other contaminants will be evaluated as well. The new data is needed to determine from a scientific standpoint the best path forward, even in advance of a potential formal set of studies that would be required to develop a plan or plans for cleanup. Theagreement requires data collection to begin in early 2023. GE will also pay EPA’s costs to oversee the work.
“I’m thankful that the EPA and GE are moving forward to more fully address and review the impact decades of pollution has had on our cherished Hudson River and its neighboring communities,” said Tonko. “It is my hope and expectation that this review will be carried out as quickly and thoroughly as possible and, most critically, that the voices and insights of those who have been most impacted are regarded with the utmost priority.”
EPA plans to keep the Community Advisory Group for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site and the public informed and involved as data is collected and follow-up decisions are made. EPA will also look to engage with communities along the lower Hudson, including communities that have environmental justice concerns.
Under the terms of the administrative agreement, GE will sample multiple fish species, sediment and water from various locations throughout the Lower Hudson River. There will be three different sediment sampling programs, each from a different range of depths of the river bottom. Collecting sediment at various depths and locations allows EPA to better understand where contamination is present and has deposited over time. GE will implement two of the three sediment programs in 2023. The third program, which includes the collection of deeper sediment samples, will occur in 2024.
Results of the sampling will inform EPA’s investigations moving forward. GE remains legally responsible for its PCBs that migrated to this area. EPA is continuing to evaluate whether other parties may also be liable for PCBs, as well as other contamination in the Lower Hudson.
The new data will supplement information collected during EPA’s investigation of the Lower Hudson River in the 1990s and the periodic monitoring of Lower Hudson River fish and water by GE under EPA oversight since 2004. EPA has also been gathering additional information and data about the Lower River in coordination with New York State and other project stakeholders since 2019 to support these efforts. GE is reimbursing EPA for the costs incurred for planning the work.
“For decades, our community has been forced to deal with the inexcusable toxic mess General Electric caused in the Hudson River. This agreement between the EPA and General Electric to investigate PCB pollution in the Hudson River represents an important step forward in protecting this iconic waterway at the heart of our districts,” said Ryan. “But we must go further. I join my colleagues in calling on General Electric to fully commit to cleaning up the Hudson. Only then will we finally be able to restore this crucial landmark.”