Magazine article Insight on the News

Why the Rush to Dredge the Hudson?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Why the Rush to Dredge the Hudson?

Article excerpt

The Hudson River Valley long has been legendary for its natural beauty, memorialized by artists who followed in the path of settlers of that prosperous and exclusive region of upstate New York. When you follow the Hudson up past the state capital of Albany, though, heading toward what folks in that neck of the woods reverently refer to as "The North Country," you leave the plush estates and mansions behind and enter the real world.

The river becomes one of the bright spots in a stretch of rustbelt communities that know the meaning of hard times. Some of the areas are so blighted that local politicians tend to shield visiting dignitaries, such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), from the awfulness of it all, steering the visitors through towns along special, spruced-up corridors.

Citizens of the beaten-down, burnt-out communities north of Albany along the Hudson grab what simple pleasures are left to them, such as boating, fishing and playing by the riverside. So, naturally, the federal government and environmental activists want to disrupt that with a massive, long-term dredging project to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the riverbed. The alleged pollutants were dumped -- legally -- some years back by General Electric Co. (GE), formerly a powerhouse presence in a then-thriving industrial area.

Many opponents, including scientists, contend there's no evidence of harm caused by PCBs. The same can't be said of dredging, essentially a gutting of the river that disrupts all its life-forms. …

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