Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Upper Hudson Cleanup May End

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Upper Hudson Cleanup May End

Article excerpt

As a six-year project to remove toxic chemicals from the upper Hudson River comes to a close, efforts to persuade General Electric Co. to continue the cleanup appeared to be blocked Monday when federal officials issued plans to dismantle the company's decontamination facility.

Although the $2 billion project has removed enough contaminated mud to fill almost two football stadiums, environmentalists and some local officials have called on GE to dredge the hundreds of tons of toxic PCBs still in the Hudson, including the portion of the river in New Jersey.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled an 88-page plan Monday to take apart a 110-acre facility built by GE that separates water from contaminated mud and cleans it. Closing the facility all but ensures that major dredging work on the Hudson is over, environmental advocates said.

"Everyone but EPA and GE seem to understand that this is a premature, counterproductive move," said Paul Gallay, president of Hudson Riverkeeper, an advocacy group. "We and our partners will keep fighting to stop it from happening. GE must live up to its responsibility to reverse the damage it has done."

PCBs in the Hudson date to 1947, when GE began using the chemical as a lubricant for electrical components at two plants 40 miles north of Albany. About 1.3 million pounds of the chemical was dumped into the river for 30 years. It was banned in the United States in 1977 after being linked to cancer along with immune, reproductive and nervous-system diseases.

Large amounts of PCBs continually flow downriver to New York Harbor, making the Hudson the largest Superfund site in the nation - - 200 miles from the southern tip of Manhattan to Hudson Falls, N.Y.

GE agreed to a large cleanup that began in 2009 after fighting that effort for years. When dredging is completed this month, almost 2.8 million cubic yards of polluted mud will have been removed in a 40-mile stretch in upstate New York. …

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