EPA Must Compel GE to Finish Hudson River Cleanup | Omega

Update: In an encouraging step, the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped short of certifying General Electric Co.'s cleanup of the Hudson River. On Jan. 29, the EPA announced it would expand the scope of its analysis of the cleanup by examining sediment samples collected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

A critical moment in the health of the Hudson River has arrived.

In the coming weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will decide whether to sign off on the efficacy of General Electric Co.’s cleanup of the PCB contamination it caused.

We urge you to tell the EPA to compel GE to dredge the remaining highly contaminated mud using this form.

From 1947 to 1977, GE dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the river from its plants along the upper Hudson.

Over the years, the cancer-causing chemical collected in the fat of river fish. Year after year, the concentrations increased until state health officials stepped in and issued dire warnings, thereby decimating a commercial fishing industry that had existed for centuries.

It took decades of grassroots and political pressure to compel GE to remove the toxic sediment that has lain at the bottom of the river.

GE has scooped out 2.75 million cubic yards of contaminated muck, the last bucket rising from the river in 2015.

But while the company has removed all of the sediment that was targeted in its agreement with the EPA, significant amounts of highly contaminated sediment remain.

Now, the EPA is on the verge of deciding whether GE should do more.

It is worth noting that other agencies—including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation—have argued that the remaining PCBs will delay the river’s recovery for decades.

This is unacceptable.

And the issue is not limited to restoring the river’s recreational or commercial potential. There is a human toll.

Day after day, threadbare anglers trundle their gear to the river’s edge in hopes of catching their next meal.

Typically, these subsistence fishers are unaware of the health risks, despite the state’s best efforts to warn them with signage in multiple languages and other outreach.

In a compassionate world, these shadows along the shoreline would be cause enough to ensure a complete and just cleanup.

@ 2018 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies