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Advocates For Expanded Hudson River Clean-Up Renew Call

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Arguing "it's now or never for the Hudson River and communities up and down its shores," activists gathered along the riverbank in Green Island today to urge General Electric to meet responsibilities beyond the current EPA-mandated PCB cleanup.

GE is slated to complete an EPA-ordered cleanup as early as this summer, one environmentalists say will leave behind millions of pounds of health-threatening PCB-contaminated sediments both north and south of the Federal Dam in Troy.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan leads the call for a comprehensive cleanup.   "That will leave the river healthy and that will lay the groundwork for a prosperous valley for decades to come."

Activists fear PCB pollution will block the river’s recovery and waterfront revitalization for generations. They say if GE won’t accept responsibility for its toxic legacy, New York taxpayers will end up paying the bill.

Daniel Raichel  is the Natural Resource Defense Council's New York Attorney.  "Because PCBs don't fully break down in nature and can only wait for somebody to come and clean them up, we know that the harms to the Hudson River communities are the same that they were decades ago. The commercial fishing industry is still defunct. The Champlain Canal is still impassable to major commercial traffic, and the Hudson is still not a fully safe place to recreate."

NRDC has pushed GE for the past 40 years to accept full responsibility for its contamination of the Hudson with PCBs. "This can end in one of three ways. Either GE pays to clean up these PCBs. The taxpayers pay to clean up these PCBs. Or the PCBs just sit there, continuing to endanger public health and the economic prosperity of the Hudson Valley. We are all here today because no one, except maybe GE, is happy with options 2 or 3.  GE has the time, the money and the expertise to finish cleaning up the Hudson the right way.  It also has the legal responsibility, even after the cleanup, to restore the river to its former health and to compensate New Yorkers for the decades of damage it has caused."

GE spokesman Mark Behan says the company is meeting all of its responsibilities concerning the river, addressing 100 percent of the PCBs that EPA targeted for removal, and meeting every other requirement the EPA ordered.  "EPA has determined that the dredging project as its currently being conducted is achieving all of the agency's cleanup goals, and protecting public health and the environment. And EPA has further concluded that additional dredging is not necessary."

EPA did not send a representative to the news conference held by Campaign For A Cleaner Hudson, the name of the umbrella group.

Behan adds when the dredging is done, GE's river remediation will continue in the flood plains and at the plant sites in Hudson Falls and Ft. Edward. "We'll also be working on habitat reconstruction in areas that were dredged and will continue to monitor environmental conditions in the river. But most significantly, we'll be conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the flood plains, building on the years of sampling and remedial work that we've already done in those areas."

Pete Bardunias, president and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, believes that in time, the river towns will see a resurgence as manufacturers and residents rediscover the Hudson. "These towns will see robust economies again, people living, playing and working in the same communities. You can be in a kayak, you be on a tugboat on that same waterway. And what we need to do is just make sure we can do everything we can to provide the tools."


For more than 200 miles along the Hudson River—towns, villages, cities and counties from northern areas of the Capital Region to southerly parts of the Hudson Valley—are passing formal resolutions to pressure General Electric to not shirk its responsibilities to address the millions of pounds of toxic PCBs it dumped into the Hudson River for decades.

To date, 56 municipalities and/or counties have joined this action. Rallying this growing movement of upriver and downriver communities and state and federal leaders to push GE to do the right thing is part of the new Campaign for a Cleaner Hudson, which is led by environmental groups that say it is now or never to get GE to do right by the Hudson.

The first section below—identifies downriver communities that have passed formal resolutions.

The second section below—outlines upriver communities that passed resolutions during fall 2014 as part of an initiative led by the Historic Hudson & Hoosic Rivers Partnership. These resolutions also advocated for GE to meet its responsibilities with its Hudson River PCB cleanup.


Town of Mamakating


Town of Livingston


City of Beacon

Town of Rhinebeck

Village of Millerton


Ulster County Legislature

Town of Hurley

Town of Lloyd

Town of New Paltz

Town of Olive

Town of Rosendale

Town of Wawarsing

Village of New Paltz

Village of Saugerties


Orange County Legislature

City of Newburgh

Town of Cornwall

Town of Highlands

Town of New Windsor

Village of Maybrook


Putnam County Legislature

(See also Westchester Putnam Association of Town Supervisors listed under Westchester County)


Rockland County Legislature

Town of Ramapo

Village of Montebello


Westchester Putnam Association of Town Supervisors

Town of Bedford

Town of Cortlandt

Town of Greenburgh

Town of Lewisboro

Town of Mamaroneck

Town of North Salem

Town of Somers

Village of Croton-on-Hudson


Communities that passed resolutions: City of Albany, City of Cohoes, Town of Easton, Town of Fort Ann, Town of Fort Edward, Village of Fort Edward, Town of Greenwich, Town of Halfmoon, Village of Hudson Falls, Town of Kingsbury, City of Mechanicville, Village of Menands, Town of Moreau, Town of Northumberland, Town of Saratoga, Town of Schaghticoke, Village of Schuylerville, Town of Waterford, City of Watervliet, and the Town of Whitehall. Resolutions also were passed by Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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