& .org

The GE logo is a registered trademark - © 2000-2001 General Electric Company - and is used on this Web site without permission.

This Web site can best be viewed using a Netscape browser.         -        SITE INDEX           -            HOME  PAGE

Site Index

What YOU can do!

Web sites of interest


News stories of interest

Newspaper compilations

Press releases



A letter from the editor

Letters to the editor

Contact elected officials
Contact U.S.- E.P.A.
Contact G.E.'s board
Contact newspapers
Contact the editor


December 4, 2001
E.P.A. Orders G.E. to Dredge Hudson River

Filed at 4:17 p.m., ET, Tuesday, December 4, 2001
(Reproduced on without permission)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration on Tuesday ordered tons of PCBs removed from New York's upper Hudson River, setting in motion one of the largest dredging operations in the nation's history.

General Electric Co., which dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river before the substance was banned by the federal government in 1977,
bitterly opposes dredging. The cleanup is expected to cost the company some $500 million.

The final decision from the Environmental Protection Agency mirrors a plan formulated by the Clinton administration and endorsed by EPA last summer.

``We are going forward with this important cleanup,'' EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said.

The decision caps a quarter-century of false starts and conflicting studies over what to do with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, buried in the river bottom.  PCBs, used as insulation and a coolant, have been linked to cancer in laboratory animals. The EPA classifies the oily substance as a probable carcinogen and says PCBs pose risks to wildlife and to people who eat fish from the Hudson.

GE released PCBs from its plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, about 40 miles north of Albany.

The EPA said it transmitted its decision to state officials, who now have 15 business days to review it before it is released officially. If GE refuses to go along with the cleanup, the EPA can start the work on its own and charge the company up to triple the cost.

The first step is to work out engineering details of the plan to dredge 2.65 million cubic yards of sediment, enough to fill about 40 football fields 30 feet deep. That could take several years.

Upstate communities where the dredging would occur are among the strongest opponents, fearing long lines of dump trucks and related activities will disrupt everyday life. They also do not want contaminated mud placed in their landfills.

A 197-mile stretch of the Hudson River from Hudson Falls to the tip of lower Manhattan was placed on the federal Superfund cleanup list in 1984 after PCBs were found in the river bed. The EPA did not order a cleanup, choosing instead to monitor the situation.

PCB levels slowly decreased. GE said the river was cleansing itself and dredging would only make the problem worse, but environmentalists argued PCBs levels were dangerously high and needed to be cleaned quickly to protect public health.

Eventually the Clinton administration came up with a dredging plan last year. In the public comment period that followed, tens of thousands of opinions poured in. The huge response prompted the EPA to push back its final decision, initially scheduled for the spring. The decision was delayed again by the September terrorist attacks in New York

GE's options shrink now that the final decision is in. The federal Superfund law, under which the dredging is being ordered, is largely immune to lawsuits. GE has, however, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of the Superfund law itself.

            On The Net:

            Environmental Protection Agency:

            General Electric Co.:

© 2001 The New York Times Company

The Associated Press news story above published in The New York Times is reproduced on without permission.

General Electric Ordered to Pay for Cleanup of Hudson

By Eric Pianin and Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 5, 2001; Page A02 
(Reproduced on without permission)

EPA Mandates $500 Million Dredging

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday ordered General Electric Co. to pay nearly half a billion dollars to dredge toxic chemicals off the floor of the upper Hudson River, despite vigorous efforts by the company and its political allies to derail or dilute the plan.

While making some modest concessions to the company, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman held fast to the essential proposal unveiled last summer calling for the dredging of 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment along 40 miles of the picturesque Hudson. The riverbed from just north of Albany upstream to Fort Edward was contaminated with PCBs from GE manufacturing plants over several decades.

"We are going ahead with this important cleanup," Whitman said. "We will do so with a continuing open process that will involve all parties."

The final decision capped an epic environmental battle that in recent years pitted the industrial giant, which insisted in millions of dollars' worth of advertising that the dredging would further damage the river, against environmentalists and New York's political establishment, including Gov. George E. Pataki and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer.

Some upstate Republicans, from Rep. John E. Sweeney to state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, vowed to press appeals with President Bush in August, after Whitman preliminarily approved the plan. But GE came away with only minor concessions from an administration generally considered more sympathetic to big business than environmentalists -- mostly promises for public hearings on several important performance standards associated with the cleanup.

"Overall, we're pleased Administrator Whitman recommited to the cleanup and the restoration of the Hudson," said Chris Ballantyne, director of the Sierra Club's Hudson River campaign. "We thought GE would seek to kill the cleanup before it began."

"This cleanup is essential to the future of the river," said Richard Schiafo, environmental project manager for Scenic Hudson, which has led the battle to dredge the river. "We have a broken water highway and it needs fixing."

Gary Shefford, a GE spokesman, said the company would reserve comment "until we have a document we can look at," although he said GE approved of some of the EPA's last-minute changes on performance standards.

The decision met with far less approval from some public officials along the twisting upper Hudson.

Merrilyn Pulver, the Fort Edward town supervisor, has led the impassioned battle against dredging the river, arguing that it would be another nail in the coffin of an economically depressed region. She spoke with little surprise of today's decision and said opponents would now concentrate on ensuring the tightest possible regulations.

Her greatest concern is that the dredging will stir up PCBs that now lie dormant on the river bottom -- as the GE ads warned. She wants General Electric and the EPA to continually test the river waters during the dredging. If more contaminants than exist now are found floating -- resuspended, in scientific lingo -- in the river, she wants the dredging to stop.

"It's a no-brainer," she said. "If there are true environmentalists here, they should join us."

The administration plan, formally transmitted yesterday to New York environmental officials, would remove in two phases about 150,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls that were dumped in the Hudson.

The plan specifies stringent air quality and noise standards associated with the dredging, measures favored by environmentalists and the company.

Other standards -- for determining the permissible levels of PCBs that could be resuspended in the water during dredging and the amount of material that could be removed and dried at nearby sites -- would be worked out later after public hearings including state and federal officials, environmental groups and local communities.

Environmental leaders said they had feared that GE might derail the plan by persuading the EPA this summer to adopt performance standards so tough that they would be virtually impossible to meet using existing technology.

"We're pleased Governor Whitman has done the right thing and issued the right decision," said Katherine Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Sweeney, said that Whitman's final decision "represents a significant shift by the EPA with regard to performance standards . . . and has finally addressed the core concerns of affected communities."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

The Washington Post news story above is reproduced 
on without permission.


Contact G.E.'s board of directors, as well as your elected officials!

Contact the Editor of this Web site   -   TOP OF PAGE   - HOME  PAGE
Contact G.E.'s board of directors

(The GE logo is a registered trademark - © 2000-2001 General Electric Company - and is used on this Web site without permission.)
Copyright ©®/  All Rights Reserved.
®/ Trademarks of and its affiliates.