After years of studies and negotiation, the dredging of PCB contaminated sediments has begun in the Hudson River. The Hudson River PCBs Site encompasses a nearly 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River in eastern New York State from Hudson Falls, New York to the Battery in New York City and includes communities in fourteen New York counties and two counties in New Jersey.
The long awaited and historic dredging of the Upper Hudson River to remove PCB-contaminated sediment began today near Rogerâ€™s Island in Fort Edward, NY. The start of the first phase of the six-year dredging project, which is being conducted under an agreement with the General Electric Company, was marked today by officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York State, elected representatives, and a broad group of community representatives and environmental stakeholders at a riverâ€™s edge ceremony in Fort Edward.
"The start of Hudson River dredging is a symbol of victory for the environment and for its river communities," said George Pavlou, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "Dredging will help restore the health of the river, and will one day allow people to eat fish that are caught between Fort Edward and Albany. This is an historic day for an historic river."
From approximately 1947 to 1977, the General Electric Company (GE) discharged as much as 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from its capacitor manufacturing plants at the Hudson Falls and Fort Edward facilities into the Hudson River.
The primary health risk associated with the site is the accumulation of PCBs in the human body through eating contaminated fish. Since 1976, high levels of PCBs in fish have led New York State to close various recreational and commercial fisheries and to issue advisories restricting the consumption of fish caught in the Hudson River.
The dredging and related work will be conducted by GE under the terms of a November 2006 consent decree. EPA will oversee all aspects of the work; dredging will continue through October 2009, weather permitting. At the conclusion of this first phase of the project, an independent panel of experts will review the results of the dredging and potentially make recommendations for changes that may be incorporated throughout the remainder of the dredging, which is targeted for completion in 2015.
This first phase of the dredging project will be conducted 24 hours a day, six days a week and targets the removal of 265,000 cubic yards of sediment and 20,300 kilograms of PCBs from a six-mile stretch of the river between Rogerâ€™s Island and Thompson Island. Sediment removed from the river will be carried by barge to a dewatering facility located on the Champlain Canal in Fort Edward. At this facility, water will be squeezed from the sediment and treated to drinking water standards before being returned to the canal. The remaining PCB-laden dirt will be loaded onto railcars for ultimate disposal at a permitted landfill facility in Andrews, Texas. The entire project will remove an estimated 1.8 million cubic yards of sediment and 113,000 kg of PCBs.