EPA, GE Update Hudson Dredging Agreement

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 26 announced that the federal government has reached an agreement with the General Electric Company (GE) to modify a Nov. 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, N.Y. 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 on Jan. 26, beginning a 30-day comment period, which concludes on Feb. 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 clean-up 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 4.5 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 also will pay Waterford's and Halfmoon's increased water use fees for purchasing water from Troy during any periods in which polychlorinated biphenyl (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.

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