The General Electric Co., which reported earnings of $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter of last year alone, can clearly afford to make towns impacted by its Hudson River dredging project whole for th tive water supplies during the project. And it should, considering that the company is responsible both for putting the PCBs in the river and the problems associated with getting them out.
Not surprisingly, the dredging has stirred up a lot of PCBs and occasionally caused an unhealthy quantity of them to be suspended in the water that people in the village and town of Stillwater, Waterford and Halfmoon drink. To ensure residents’ safety, these municipalities all hooked up to alternative water supplies — the city of Troy’s or the Saratoga County Water Authority’s — with GE properly bearing the cost.
But some costs apparently weren’t covered, and that was the focus of a suit that GE has just agreed to settle.
It wouldn’t have been fair to burden the taxpayers of three relatively small municipalities with such relatively high (for them) incidental costs. Though the terms of the settlement haven’t been made public yet, we hope they will fully cover the municipalities’ costs.
The billion-dollar dredging project has admittedly been a nightmare for GE, but it hasn’t been a picnic for the surrounding Hudson River communities. The least a highly profitable company like GE can do to mitigate the impact is to make sure the communities affected by it don’t go broke dealing with it.