U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to keep the General Electric Co. on the hook for more cleanup of the Hudson River. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Gillibrand, D-N.Y., issued a press release and letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday, saying as much. The EPA is in the process of a second five-year review of the Hudson River Superfund cleanup of PCBs. In December, the state Department of Environmental Conservation released a sediment and fish report, which found that PCB contamination remained in the river and the concentrations had not significantly decreased.
The DEC also called on the EPA to not issue a certification of completion to GE, as has Gov. Andrew Cuomo and multiple environmental groups. In a statement to The Post-Star Tuesday, the EPA said it has not yet made a decision regarding GE’s request for the cleanup to end. “We hope to come to some conclusions in the near term,” said Larisa Romanowski, a public affairs specialist with the agency.
The latest news about PCB contamination in the Hudson River has dismayed both those who opposed dredging and those who championed it as the wa…
The EPA was originally supposed to make a decision on the Certificate of Completion by January 2018. It has since been delayed as the EPA reviews sediment data with the DEC. “With that said, we have worked with deliberate speed to look at sediment and fish data to ensure that we have the best possible measure of post-dredging conditions prior to issuance of the Five-Year Remedy Review and potential issuance of the Certification of Completion,” Romanowski added. “Our timeline is focused on ensuring that we have done a thorough analysis with our state partners.” GE has disputed the DEC’s sediment report released late last year, though Schumer and Gillibrand believe the report shows that a Certificate of Completion would be premature.
“The bottom line is that the cleanup of PCBs is not complete — far too much of this toxin remains in the Hudson River and more must be done to remove it before EPA can say ‘mission accomplished,’” Schumer said, in a release. “The EPA must work with GE and impacted communities up and down the Hudson to set forth a plan to remove the remaining PCB pollution to protect public health, to preserve the river and to ensure it is a vibrant resource for current and future generations.” Gillibrand said she wanted to see more data that the dredging remedy actually worked. “The EPA has a responsibility to ensure that the cleanup protects the health of New Yorkers and our environment, and the agency must listen to the serious concerns that have been raised by local communities, the state and other federal agencies that have a stake in the long-term health of the Hudson River. Clean water is a right, and we must ensure that we are doing everything possible to fully clean up the Hudson River for future generations.”
GE responded late Tuesday, saying that “the data show conclusively that the Hudson River dredging project is working and will protect the environment as EPA predicted. New York State’s research affirmed that 99.8% of the sediment samples collected from the Upper Hudson achieved the standards set by the EPA.”