Saratoga County

Saratoga County supervisors seek PCB testing of floodplains

Saratoga County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously urged that floodplains along the upper Hudson Riv

Saratoga County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously urged that floodplains along the upper Hudson River be tested for the presence of PCBs before the current river dredging project ends.

The goal of the request is to determine the extent of any on-shore contamination, and push for any needed work to be done sooner rather than later.

The dredging of a 40-mile stretch of the river, which General Electric is paying for because the PCBs were discharged from two of its plants, is scheduled to end in 2015.

“If nothing changes, they will have completed what they agreed to do by next fall,” said Saratoga Town Supervisor Tom Wood. “I’m not saying GE is the bad guy. They’ve done a tremendous job.”

But the end of the six-year dredging project would lead to closure of the dewatering facility in Fort Edward, and supervisors want to be sure all PCBs have been addressed before it closes.

The resolution passed at a meeting in Ballston Spa also calls for navigation dredging in areas of the river that don’t have high levels of PCB contamination.

Wood said that if the dewatering plant is closed next year, it will be difficult if not impossible to dredge in areas of the river that are contaminated, but not severely enough to have qualified for the current dredging of “hot spots.”

Floodplain testing could establish the locations where the toxic PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls — have been deposited during past flooding.

A GE spokesman said last week that a significant amount of flood plain testing has already been done, and many of the tests found no PCBs in the soil.

Wood, however, noted those test results haven’t been shared with public officials. GE says it has given the results to the EPA and affected landowners.

GE, working under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supervision, is spending about $1 billion to dredge the river between Hudson Falls and Troy of “hot spots.” The PCBs were discharged by GE capacitor plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls between 1946 and 1977.

GE spokesman Mark Behan has said GE and the EPA are working on a long-term remediation program for the flood plains. Contamination already found in the flood plains has been covered with clean soil, he said.

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