FORT EDWARD — As the public waits for a final decision from the EPA about the Hudson River dredging, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a study arguing for more cleanup on Thursday.
The Environmental Protection Agency could, at any time, announce whether General Electric has met all of its obligations in dredging PCBs from the Hudson River. The company believes it has finished the dredging, removed all the related equipment and has been waiting for more than a year for EPA’s decision.
But on Thursday afternoon, Cuomo said the cleanup is not done.
DEC sampled hundreds of fish in the river last year to determine whether PCB contamination was dropping now that much of the pollution has been removed from the river sediment.
The results, in a study released Thursday, show that average fish contamination levels now are the same as they were prior to the start of dredging. The average PCB concentration was 1.2 parts per million, which is three times higher than the concentration EPA wanted the fish to reach by 2020, according to DEC.
In addition, the DEC study found that fish in the lower Hudson, south of Albany, have remained “nearly constant and show no rate of improvement.”
Cuomo said he wants more contaminated sediment removed from the river.
“EPA must not let GE off the hook for a job that is not done,” Cuomo said in a statement.
He added that the state will take “any action necessary to hold them accountable and demand they fulfill their obligation to restore our treasured river.”
In the past, he’s threatened to sue.
While his press release began by saying that GE should collect additional data to determine if another round of sediment removal is needed, the three-page release ends by saying that the data would help determine “where and how much” sediment should be removed.
DEC is also now asking EPA to study the lower Hudson, or compel GE to fund the work.
Behan Communications, which represents GE on this matter, said the state is misrepresenting the data.
The state is using an average contamination level from data of all fish. But in fish that people eat, PCB levels have declined by 58 percent, said spokesman Mark Behan.
“Dredging is clearly working. The data demonstrates that conclusively,” he said. “Here’s the proof of that: New York State took sediment samples. 99.8 percent of the samples show PCB levels below the EPA dredging criteria. Those samples, collected by New York State, confirm the dredging worked.”
An email statement on behalf of the EPA stated: "We are appreciative of the Governor’s interest in remediation of the Hudson River and in protecting public health and the environment. We are also grateful for NYSDEC’s valued input and look forward to reviewing their report. EPA appreciates NYSDEC’s cooperative partnership in this and other work to protect human health and the environment. EPA has not yet made a decision regarding GE’s request for Certification of Completion of the Remedial Action or the Five-Year Review. We expect to finalize our decisions on these matters in early 2019."