EPA Announces Two Actions on Upper Hudson River PCB Cleanup
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking two distinct steps on the Upper Hudson River PCB cleanup in New York state.
These steps include:
- The issuance of the five-year review, which includes EPA’s decision to defer a determination of the protectiveness of the remedy in the Upper Hudson River until more years of Hudson River fish tissue data are gathered.
- In a separate action from the issuance of the five-year review, EPA also issued a “Certification of Completion of the Remedial Action” today to GE (General Electric Company) for activities it conducted that were components of the remedy selected for the cleanup of the Upper Hudson River.
This is the second certificate in a series of three – the first was issued in 2012 and the third is not expected to be available to GE for more than five decades. Consequently, the third certificate, the “Certification of Completion of the Work” is not being contemplated and is not a part of today’s announcement.
“EPA greatly respects and honors the engagement of the many concerned individuals and organizations who are so passionate about restoring the iconic Hudson River and we look forward to continuing these important partnerships with the River’s many stakeholders,” EPA Regional Administrator Peter Lopez said.
“Many of us share a personal connection with this living resource, and value its connection to commerce, recreation, tourism, the arts and more. This work is critically important not only for today, but for future generations. We take this effort seriously. No person or organization will be let off the hook for the contamination of this historic and valuable waterway.”
Certification of Completion of the Remedial Action
In a distinctly separate action from the issuance of the five-year review, EPA also issued a “Certification of Completion of the Remedial Action” today to GE for activities it conducted that were components of the remedy selected for the cleanup of the Upper Hudson River.
Specifically, the certification confirms that the dredging, capping, habitat restoration, and deconstruction / decontamination of the sediment processing facility conducted with EPA oversight between 2009 and 2016 (at a reported cost to GE of more than $1.7 billion) were properly performed in accordance with the 2006 legal agreement (Consent Decree) between EPA and GE.
This certification does not cover, and does not in any way release GE from, any obligation to continue its operation, maintenance and monitoring (OM&M) responsibilities under the Consent Decree (which is specific to the work in the Upper Hudson) – a responsibility GE will bear for decades, said EPA.
The issuance of this certification is not based on the findings of the five-year Review, including the protectiveness of the remedy; rather it is an acknowledgement that certain activities were carried out by GE, as required.
Under the terms of the Consent Decree, GE can be compelled to conduct further actions, potentially including additional dredging, should EPA conclude in the future, based on the semi-annual sampling that will occur under the ROD and any other relevant information, that the remedial action carried out in the Upper Hudson is not protective of public health or the environment.
Additional EPA Work
Dredging the River is not the only work that EPA is advancing to clean up the Upper Hudson.
Comprehensive investigations to assess and mitigate PCB contamination that may be present in sediment carried onto local floodplains and landlocked segments of the old Champlain Canal are actively underway.
EPA is also working closely with NYSDEC to advance assessment of the Hudson River from the federal dam in Troy to the mouth of New York Harbor, and to determine what additional studies should be performed.