deception, the G.E. way
by Ken Dufty
Troy, New York
January 23, 2001
General Electric, in its incredibly expensive
advertising campaign to convince you to let the Company off the hook for
ruining the Hudson River, is employing every nasty trick in the adman's
book. Utterly false does not even describe this misleading advertising
campaign by the pros.
G.E. is choking the airwaves with unbridled lies which, if endorsed
by otherwise well-intentioned folks, could have negative consequences on
the future health of all living things in the Hudson Valley. This letter
will visit the major statements being broadcast by G.E. in its advertising
campaign, and will counter each with a statement of the facts, truth being
G.E.'s second casualty in this debate--the first being the health of the
G.E.'s Statement: Recreation on the Hudson will be off-limits
for 10-20 years if dredging proceeds.
Fact: G.E.'s statement is simply untrue. The history of
remediation in other rivers and lakes around the nation and the world proves
that hydraulic suction dredging is safe, non-invasive, and something which
can be conducted while recreation on the waterway continues unimpeded.
Unchecked clamshell dredging of the channel in the 1960's and 1970's resulted
in the removal of millions of yards of sediment from the Hudson. Yet, the
river was not 'ruined', and no one seemed to take much notice at the time.
G.E.'s claim that the river will be shut down for 10-20 years if a U.S.-E.P.A.
clean-up is ordered is nothing more than an attempt to generate hysteria
amongst those who enjoy using the River for recreational purposes.
G.E.'s Statement: We had a permit to discharge PCB's
into the Hudson River. We shouldn't be punished for our lawful activity.
Fact: Like the Company's other claims about its discharges
of PCB's into the River, this claim distorts the truth in an attempt to
make it unrecognizable. Indeed, G.E. discharged toxic PCB's into the Hudson
River for 29 years, from 1946 to 1974, without any permit whatsoever.
It is during this time that the majority of damage was done to the river's
ecosystem. Further, even after G.E. received a permit in 1975 for discharge
of PCB's into the river, the Company regularly violated that permit's limits.
To call the Company's dumping of PCB's 'lawful' is pure hogwash.
G.E.'s Statement: The Hudson River is cleaning itself
through a natural healing process. We should let that process continue.
Fact: While the River is becoming 'cleaner' in certain
aspects because sewage and noxious chemical discharges into the River have
been tightly regulated and limited since the mid-1970's, this 'healing'
process has done little about the 'open sore' of PCB contamination.
PCB contamination is invisible to the eye and leaves no taint of smell,
but it continues to impact the River, the River estuary, and the surrounding
ecosystem. In truth, PCB's are continuing to move through the river. Nearly
500 pounds of PCB's wash over the Troy dam every year, spreading throughout
the lower Hudson, into New York Harbor, and from there into the Atlantic
Ocean. There are over 30 areas where concentrated oily PCB's are available
to the river's ecosystem. Unless these contaminated sediments are removed
from the river, levels of PCB's in fish are expected to be many times the
threshold deemed safe for human consumption for more than 70 years. Further,
the effect of PCB contamination on the food chain, upon wildlife, and upon
the natural resources of the entire Hudson River estuary/ecosystem is only
just beginning to be understood.
G.E.'s Statement: Local communities will be disrupted
once trucks filled with PCB-laden mud start clogging the streets and roads.
Fact: This contention is wholly unsubstantiated and appears
to be yet another attempt by G.E. to fuel the fires of hysteria against
remediation of the River. The U.S.-E.P.A. has stated that little to no
truck traffic will be involved in transporting the PCB-laden sediment during
and after its removal from the river bottom. When contamination is removed
through hydraulic suction dredging, platforms are to be lowered into the
river, complete with silt curtains and video-guidance and monitoring cameras.
The contaminated sediment is to be vacuumed-up and placed into sealed
containers on the barge above. Once filled, the containers will be off-loaded
to a water treatment plant, where the sediments will be de-watered and
dried. When that treatment is complete, the dried material will next be
loaded into sealed containers which will be transported by barge to a site
where the containers will be loaded onto rail cars for transport to an
approved landfill. G.E.'s video images of trucks dripping toxic mud
from the tailgates into an open environment are an obvious attempt to frighten
(Ken Dufty has been involved in Hudson River PCB issues
for over sixteen years and is executive director of the Rensselaer County
Environmental Management Council, and a founding member and former president
of Concerned Citizens for the Environment--a three state coalition of citizens
formed to promote sound energy policy. He may be reached via e-mail
Read the related letter to the Editor:
Being the same as G.E.?