by Robert L. Henrickson
East Nassau, New York
Thursday, February 8, 2001
To those who were responsible enough to attend
the U.S.-E.P.A.'s December hearing in Saratoga, and to become informed
on the Hudson River clean-up plan, E.P.A.'s alleged 'dirty little secret'
-- at least that's what The Troy Record calls it -- is alas,
neither dirty nor a secret. ("E.P.A.'s
dirty little secret," The Troy Record, February 6, 2001)
This matter of dewatering sites is hardly a revelation, especially since
E.P.A. spent considerable time at the hearing going over it in detail.
It is certainly not the 'turning point' that some would lead the
public to believe. I am referring to the uninformed (or disingenuous)
politicians and others who would curiously advocate for maintaining a poisoned
river (presently, at least 500 lbs. of hazardous chemicals pour uncontained
over the Troy dam every year).
The Albany Times-Union story by Dennis Yusko is at least a bit
more balanced, though it too hypes the dewatering sites portion of E.P.A.'s
clean-up plan as being some sort of major revelation: 'Dredging foes
reveal EPA is considering 12 places for drying PCB-laden muck....'
sites make list for sludge," Albany Times-Union, February
At Saratoga, E.P.A. made it crystal clear they would need two sites
with rail access where sediment, after environmentally-careful removal
from the River, could be barged for dewatering, and loaded into boxcars
prior to shipment to a safe, permitted, out-of-state containment location.
The Agency was hoping to find one of those dewatering sites near the Port
of Albany, and the other near Fort Edward.
It is time to face two simple, yet important facts: Research regarding
the serious public health impacts of PCB's accrues almost daily.
What's more, dredging is no big deal -- during the 1970's, almost one million
cubic yards of sediment were dredged from the Hudson River. Was there
disruption then? Was there a river shutdown? Of course not!
People hardly even remember
that dredge project. (G.E. wasn't under
the gun to pay for that one.)
Fulfilling our role as stewards of our natural resources for future
generations by cleaning-up hazardous pollution in this magnificent river
is a wise, and overdue move. Wiser yet is that it should take place
at responsible party General Electric Company's expense, not taxpayer
expense. This is not only reasonable and fair, but right. I
suspect it is also why the NUCC membership voted to endorse the E.P.A.
plan on January 24, 2001.
The clean-up of these hazardous chemicals is inevitable. Take
it from someone living near Nassau's Dewey Loeffel Toxic Dump: the
E.P.A. plan is opportunity pounding down the door. It is beyond understanding
why everyone is not answering this call. What would you prefer
-- G.E. picking up the $460 million tab, or New York State (or U.S.) taxpayers
having to foot the bill?
(Robert L. Henrickson is president of the Nassau Union
of Concerned Citizens, Inc., and a trustee on the Village Board of East
Nassau, New York. He may be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Editor's Note: The above article is compiled from Mr. Henrickson's
letters-to-the-editor sent to The Troy Record and Albany Times-Union
in response to those newspapers' recent coverage of Hudson River matters.