ALBANY — With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continuing to review whether PCB dredging in the upper Hudson River was successful, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and several members of Congress on Friday urged more dredging.
The letter to EPA Administrator E. Scott Pruitt said the legislators have “serious concerns” with whether the $1.7 billion dredging project conducted between 2009 and 2015 was successful in reducing PCB levels in fish and improving the river’s health.
“We call on you to conclude that the remedy for the entire Hudson River Superfund site is ‘not protective,’ and remove the finding that it ‘will be protective,’ paving the way for the Hudson to receive the cleanup it deserves,” the legislators wrote.
The PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls — were discharged from General Electric plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward between 1946 and 1977. GE has paid for the cleanup under an EPA order issued in 2002.
The current EPA review is required under the EPA order, and similar reviews must be conducted every five years. The agency’s preliminary conclusion is that, while it will be as long as 50 years before fish from the river are safe to eat, the work done to date “will be protective” of the river, and no more dredging is needed. The EPA project manager has also said addition dredging wouldn’t make a significant difference in the river’s recovery time.
The letter was signed by Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and five Democratic members of Congress representing the lower Hudson Valley or New York City: Sean Patrick Maloney, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Eliot Engel.
EPA officials have received more than 1,000 public comments about the dredging that are now being reviewed.