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PCB Spike in the Hudson Affects Town's Drinking Water

PCB Spike in the Hudson Affects Town's Drinking Water
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas 05.05.09
General Electric spokesman Mark Behan presents an aerial map of the dredging site at Fort Edward.

By Dave Lucas


Half Moon, NY – A Saratoga county town will no longer draw its drinking water from the Hudson River, after a close encounter with PCBs - Capital District Bureau Chief dave Lucas reports.

The Town of Halfmoon has switched its water supply source following Hudson River water tests that measured PCB levels more than four times the allowed level for safe drinking. EPA Spokeswoman Kristin Scopeck says the Environmental Protection Agency allows up to 500 parts per trillion, but samples taken near Thompson Island were found to have more than 2,000 parts per trillion.

Halfmoon Town Supervisor Mindy Wormuth says she wasn't notified quick enough to change the water source and that allowed affected water the reach the intake, putting downriver communities like hers at risk. GE spokesman Mark Behan says the real issue is WHY there are higher levels of PCBs now, months after dredging eneded. Wormuth credits Halfmoon's walter filtration system with preventing most of the PCBs from entering the water supply, but she says after this, Halfmoon will stay with Troy water, which will likely strain the town's budget. Wormuth notes that testing will continue to see if the problem persists. The town is currently involved in a federal lawsuit to compel GE to foot the bill for the cost involved in importing water from Troy.

Scientists and engineers are reviewing the results of the first year of the 780-million dollar dredging project. The next round of dredging is slated to begin in 2011.