DEC tests find that Hudson River PCB levels still too high after General Electric cleanup

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos recently sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency addressing the progress that General Electric has made in their efforts to clean up PCBs that led to contamination of the Hudson River. Water quality studies show that GE’s efforts are not having a significant impact on the level of contamination.  Currently, GE is in the process of completing dredging in the areas of the river where the PCB contamination was previously found.

Recent tests completed by the NOAA on downstream fish recovery in the Hudson River has called the success of the cleanup effort into doubt.  The fish are recovering slower than anticipated, despite GE’s expensive, and cooperative, cleanup efforts.  Seggos stated that GE should continue their clean-up with further work by re-dredging areas where the contamination is still incredibly high. Throughout his letter, he urges the EPA to be more strict and rigid in enforcing the mandated cleanup and to ensure that the area is brought back to proper safety levels.

The DEC, environmental advocacy groups, and other state organizations are pushing for the EPA to ask GE to do more and review the progress that GE has made under the Superfund Act. This could potentially require further action until the PCB levels are brought below the EPA’s high-risk level.

While this is all speculative, GE reports that they believe they are compliance with the mandated clean-up and anticipate the results to be within the proper range and scope in the EPA’s mandated five year review, which will be released in 2017.