Officials Discuss Hudson River Cleanup Project

Several politicians and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency met up on the shore of the Hudson River to discuss the progress of the federal Superfund cleanup on the Hudson River and the efforts to restore properties along its shorelines. This year marks the third season of dredging to remove PCB-contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the river between Fort Edward and Troy, New York.

On the shore were U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith Enck, Congressional Representative Paul Tonko, New York State Department of Environmental Conservatoin Deputy Commissioner Eugene Leff and Troy Mayor Lous Rosamilia. The group visited a former junkyard in Troy that will be cleaned and redeveloped and toured a former mercury reclamation facility in Colonie and Guilderland that will be refined.

The companies that contimated the areas will pay for the superfund cleanups on the Hudson River and mercury refining sites. The EPA decides what sites will go on the superfund list and then requires that the companies responsible for polluting the area pay for the cleanup.

“The combined efforts of DEC and EPA have resulted in significant improvements at contaminated sites in the Capital Region,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “From the dredging of the Hudson River to cleaning up former manufactured gas production facilities, the cooperative efforts of both agencies have resulted in a better environment and increased economic opportunities for the area. DEC looks forward to accomplishing future environmental wins in its partnership with EPA.”

The EPA has finalized a cleanup plan for the mercury refining site that will address soil, sediment and ground water that is extensively contaminated with mercury. The work is expected to be completed by the spring of 2013. 

Under the cleanup plan for the Mercury Refining site, contaminated soil at the surface and more easily accessible to people will be excavated and taken off-site. Contaminated soil that is deeper will be treated using a solidification and stabilization technology, which will also stabilize contaminated ground water. This method treats the contaminated soil and ground water by locking the mercury in a mixture of portland cement and another agent, preventing it from moving into the surrounding soil and ground water. In addition, the cleanup plan calls for the removal of contaminated sediment from a tributary to Patroon Creek, which receives rainwater runoff from the Mercury Refining property. Water will be removed from the excavated creek sediment and disposed of at an off-site landfill. EPA is finalizing a settlement with responsible parties for the cleanup of the site.

Workers began dredging the Hudson River south of Fort Edward in early May. They will continue dredging 3 miles downriver through the area of Griffin Island.

PCBs are a concern, say some experts, because they build up in the food chain and accumulate in the fatty tissue of fish and mammals. The primary health risk to people is from eating contaminated fish. PCBs are likely cancer-causing chemicals and can cause neurological damage, especially in children.