The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced a settlement designed to further clean up the Housatonic River in western Massachusetts and Connecticut.
General Electric dumped PCBs into the waterway from the 1930s until the substance was banned in 1977. The agreement is between the EPA, GE, six Berkshire County communities, the state and Connecticut and other stakeholders. The EPA says contaminated sediment will be removed from the river and floodplains and taken to existing hazardous waste landfills elsewhere in the U.S.
The agency says the agreement also calls for removing more contaminated sediment than required by EPA’s 2016 cleanup plan, reducing the amount of capping of sediment in the river by one-third. The EPA says lower-level PCB contaminated materials will be taken to a disposal facility to be built in Lee.
Democratic State Senator Adam Hinds says the “agreement is the best the towns and city could expect, given the alternatives” and improves on the EPA’s 2016 cleanup plan, but says it’s “regrettable” that GE is not being held to a full cleanup.
“This landmark agreement is a major milestone in our collective efforts to address PCB contamination in the Housatonic River, and we are looking forward to more comprehensive and faster cleanup activity in the river. The cleanup will achieve the goal of protecting human health and the environment and ensures that the Housatonic River and its floodplain are restored and preserved as an asset to the community and wildlife,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel in a statement. “EPA is grateful to all of our partners who have remained focused on achieving an excellent outcome for the Housatonic River and for Berkshire County. We look forward to meeting with citizens in the communities to discuss the agreement and next steps.”