By Lanning Taliaferro –
The cleanup of PCBs that made much of the Hudson River a Superfund site and caused a fishing ban since 1977 is proceeding apace, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA released a draft of its second five-year review of the the Hudson River Superfund site Thursday that recommends staying the course laid out more than a decade ago. That conclusion drew immediate fire from environmental groups and public officials, who have called for an expanded cleanup.
One reason advocates for the river are so angry is that the EPA said in its summary, “This statutory FYR has been prepared because hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants remain at the Site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure.”
Despite that, the EPA reaffirmed the remediation program so far: “the analyses presented in this report demonstrate that the models used to support decision making were well-designed…and remedy implementation is proceeding as planned,” the EPA said. And the researchers said they thought the work that has been done is enough. “EPA expects that continued natural attenuation following the completion of dredging will achieve the long-term remediation goal for the protection of human health with regard to fish consumption.”
Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, the seminal Hudson River protector, said:
The evidence clearly shows the Hudson River remedy is not protective of human health and the environment, and the EPA’s decision flies in the face of that evidence. Rather than rubber stamping an inadequate cleanup, EPA should have mandated additional remediation. In the lower Hudson where no dredging has occurred, even EPA has acknowledged that goals will not be met. EPA should require action to meet the goals, not move the goalposts.
From 1947 to 1977, General Electric discharged an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) into the Hudson River from its capacitor manufacturing plants at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward. Considered a carcinogen, PCBs were banned in 1977.
Fishing in the upper Hudson River, and most commercial fishing in the lower Hudson, has been banned since 1976 as a result of the PCB contamination. In 1995, New York State officials reopened the Upper Hudson River to sport fishing on a catch-and-release basis only. The mid- and lower regions of the Hudson River are subject to a sportfish consumption advisory issued in 1975 by the state Department of Health.
Source: New City Patch