Scenic Hudson says GE owes over $11 billion to complete Hudson River cleanup

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POUGHKEEPSIE – General Electric dumped millions of pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Hudson River above Albany from 1947 to 1977.

The commissioned study, detailed by Scenic Hudson on Tuesday estimates that GE owes $11.4 billion to complete the cleanup and restoring of the river’s natural resources under federal Superfund law.

The study compared GE’s dumping of PCBs to the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, during a five-month period in 2010, and the contamination in the Hudson River, which occurred over three decades, is far worse.

“PCBs are incredibly persistent. PCBs are far more toxic than oil,” said Haylee Carlock, Scenic Hudson’s director of Environmental Advocacy and Legal Affairs, who conducted Tuesday’s briefing. “The damage is far, far greater than the Gulf.”

The study also estimates $10.7 billion is needed in additional dredging, especially in the upper Hudson to help the region’s restoration of natural resources, especially for recreational fishing.

GE dredged for PCBs in the hotspots of the upper Hudson from 2009-2015, but Scenic Hudson believes that a high amount of these toxins still remain in the water and river sediment in dredged and un-dredged areas

“Removing the contamination will help the restoration happen more quickly,” she said. “This is about restoring the Hudson River to a healthy condition. It’s fair we make them pay their fair share”

Federal and state trustees will now conduct a full Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) to find out the damage the PCBs have done to the river’s environment in order to make recommendations regarding the actions needed for restoration.

Scenic Hudson’s report is not an NRDA, but it used the same applied analysis of that assessment.

“They (the trustees) have been aware they have been working on this report,” said Carlock.

Mark Behan, GE’s spokesman, responded to the report. “GE’s dredging  of the Upper Hudson River has been hailed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a ‘historic achievement,’ and EPA, supported by the federal courts, has concluded no additional dredging is needed. Today’s report by a private advocacy group is inconsistent with the wealth of scientific literature showing that Hudson River wildlife populations are healthy and thriving. The government’s natural resource assessment has not yet been completed. We are proud of our contributions and will continue to work closely with local, state and federal agencies.”