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DEC Taking Comments On Proposed PCB Remediation Plan

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New York State environmental officials have released details of a plan to clean toxic chemicals from a General Electric facility on the upper Hudson River.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has opened a public comment period on a proposed remedy for the PCB contamination found at the G.E. Fort Edward Plant Site.

PCBs were used by GE in its capacitor manufacturing there. For three decades the chemicals were dumped into the nearby Hudson River.

The 32-acre site includes several buildings used for manufacturing, as well as a wastewater treatment facility. The site is being closed by GE this year as it moves capacitor manufacturing operations to Clearwater, Florida. The site is surrounded by homes and businesses.

The portion of DEC’s remediation plan up for public comment would focus on PCB contamination in the bedrock and groundwater underneath the plant. It is the last cleanup target under New York’s Superfund Program.

Althea Mularkey, policy analyst at Scenic Hudson, said her organization will be paying close attention to the DEC’s plan for underground sampling.

“And asking questions about and making sure in fact there won’t be any more seepage into the Hudson River, especially considering we’re nearing the end of the inriver remediation, and the last thing we want is a source of contamination that’s still going to continue to contaminate what’s already been cleaned.”

Abigail Jones, staff attorney for Riverkeeper, said her organization will also be looking to see if there’s any influence from groundwater pollution on the Hudson River.

“I’ve reviewed the action plan briefly, and it says that there does not appear to be any surface water contamination issues, it’s not a major source of contamination of the Hudson River. And that would be our main focus in reviewing the remedial action plan.”

DEC is inviting public comment on the proposed remediation plan until March 19th.

General Electric is proposing a new wastewater treatment site to replace an older facility at its Hudson Falls site one mile away. The facility treats water collected through underground wells and tunnels.

The plant will be moved to a new building on GE owned land. Once it is relocated, the old building will be demolished, part of a long term plan to demolish the all of the former manufacturing structures.

Hudson Falls village clerk Ellen Brayman confirmed that the village planning board this week approved the site-plan for the wastewater project, as well as the demolition of certain buildings. The site plan has already gotten approval from the Washington County planning board.

GE is scheduled to wrap up its estimated $2 billion dredging project begun in 2009 this year. In October it was announced that GE would begin $20.5 million comprehensive study of the shorelines stretching along the Hudson from Fort Edward to Troy, about 40 miles.

At the time, GE spokesman Mark Behan said the work on the river would continue.

“In 2016 we’ll be working on habitat reconstruction in the river, and monitoring, and of course our work on the flood plains will continue for the foreseeable future, so GE’s work on the Hudson has a long way to go.”

Environmental advocates are seeking additional work on the river from GE outside of its agreement with EPA.

Riverkeeper is among several groups hoping GE will work to remediate PCB’s from the navigation channel along the Champlain Canal. Jones said if that work falls upon the state it could take longer and be more costly.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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