New York DEC Says Hudson River PCB Cleanup Not Finished

The state wants EPA to further evaluate the need for additional removal of contaminated sediment to make sure the targeted PCB reductions in fish are met, and it is also asking EPA to start its investigation of the Lower Hudson River.

The commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has urged EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to deny General Electric's request to certify that the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls in the upper Hudson River is complete. Seggos sent a detailed letter to Pruitt dated Nov. 22 that says "overwhelming evidence and data demonstrates that the remedy is not protective of human health and the environment," so the agency can't certify that the cleanup is complete.

"The Hudson River is a national historic treasure, and we cannot let the PCB contamination persist any longer," said Commissioner Seggos. "It's clear from the state's ongoing research that EPA's job is not done and they cannot declare that this remediation is complete. If the federal government fails New York, we will explore all legal options to challenge the EPA's decision and ensure this river is not left to suffer the consequences of pollution for generations to come."

The letter identifies issues that, in the state's view, indicate a certificate of completion should not be issued for the project. "Much more PCB was found in the river during both project design, and project implementation, and the State has confirmed that more PCB was left behind than was intended when the remedy was selected," it says.

"Based on all of the existing evidence, it would be wholly inappropriate for EPA to certify this cleanup is complete," Seggos added. "Until this remedy can be credibly found to be protective of human health and the environment, EPA must do more to reevaluate the effectiveness of this remedy and require additional actions to restore the health of this important ecosystem."

The state wants EPA to further evaluate the need for additional removal of contaminated sediment to make sure the targeted PCB reductions in fish are met, and it is also asking EPA to start its investigation of the Lower Hudson River and fully evaluate PCB impacts of contamination from the Troy Dam south to New York City, saying that 150-mile reach of the river was never fully investigated by EPA, even though EPA has identified human health and ecological risks associated with GE's PCBs in fish at levels well above EPA's acceptable risk range.

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