© 2022
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
WAMC 1400 AM will be off of the air Sept. 29 and 30.

PCB Removal in Pittsfield Site to Begin

A stretch of the Housatonic River under remediation.
Berkshire Environmental Action Team
A stretch of the Housatonic River undergoing remediation

Beginning next week, General Electric will be begin work on removing PCBs from Pittsfield’s Silver Lake. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard…

In a written statement to WAMC GE confirmed that Niagara Falls-based contractors Sevenson Environmental Services will begin work on the Pittsfield site on Monday, July 9th. The work will be part of the ongoing project in coordination with the US Environmental Protection Agency to remove and contain contaminated sediment in the area of the former General Electric plot and the Housatonic River watershed. Polychlorinated biphenyls – or PCBs – a variety of probable cancer-causing chemicals were produced and discharged into the Housatonic River watershed until the 1970s.

PCBs are currently present in the Silver Lake’s sediment and banks deposited as runoff from the adjoining former GE site.

Dave Dickerson, project coordinator from the EPA, says that the work will be split into two phases over the next year; including removing contaminated sediment from the banks and placing a sand cap to integrate with the surround soils. A stone barrier will be used to prevent the inflow of PCBs or contaminates from the neighboring site. He said that work will use heavy machinery.

Dickerson said that the project will be visible from the surrounding areas, with some probably closure of local roads when necessary, but the impact on East Street – an adjoining artery for Pittsfield – will be minimal.

Contaminated sediment removed from the site will be placed on barges and taken out of state.

Jane Winn of the Berkshire Environmental Action team criticized the capping method as a means of remediation.

A long-term monitoring program will be conducted to ensure the cap remains protected, make sure the cap remains free PCBs, and make sure the cap settles with the surrounding environment. The Consent Decree with GE requires corrective action if problems are found.

Dave Dickerson mentioned the ultimate goal is to make the area useable to the public for recreational purposes once the site has been tested and deemed safe. Removed trees and shrubs will be replaced with native species.

The work will continue through 2013.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.