GE Moving Ahead on Hudson PCB Removal

General Electric Co. (GE) just awarded a dredging contract to Cashman Dredging & Marine Contracting Co. LLC for its Hudson River PCB removal project.

<"">Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dangerous chemicals banned in 1979, were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. Suspected carcinogens, PCB health problems also include neurological effects. Dumped by industry in a number of waterways, PCBs accumulate in the environment and marine life, presenting serious human and environmental health issues.

Cashman Dredging & Marine is the company that worked with GE in 2009 during the cleanup test phase of the Hudson PCB removal project, said The Wall Street Journal. The environmental dredging project to remove the Hudson PCBs, will begin in Hudson River’s upper river area and will start next month. The cleanup is scheduled to take five-to-seven years to complete, a massive undertaking, noted The Journal. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that more sediment tainted with PCBs and which came from old GE plants on the Hudson be removed.

As we have long explained, GE dumped between 209,000 and 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the upper and lower Hudson River from two capacitor manufacturing plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward. According to the EPA, the site involves some 200 miles of New York’s Hudson River from Hudson Falls to New York City’s Battery area.

We have been following the issue of PCBs in the nation’s waterways and recently wrote that the EPA just added New York City’s Newtown Creek to its Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.

The EPA also completed its investigation of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York, confirming the widespread presence of numerous contaminants, including PCBs and that a combination of historical and ongoing sources contaminated the Gowanus Canal, including past industrial activities there. A number of industrial facilities are among these sources, including three former manufactured gas plant sites along the Gowanus Canal. Uncontrolled discharges of sewage, storm water, and other types of discharges into the Gowanus continue to contaminate the canal.

Last month, we reported that the EPA announced the addition of the Dewey Loeffel Landfill in Rensselaer County, New York to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. The landfill is contaminated with toxic substances that include PCBs in the ground water beneath the landfill and in area streams and tributaries that feed Nassau Lake.

From 1952 until 1968, the landfill was a disposal site for over 46,000 tons of waste materials generated by several companies, including GE, Bendix Corporation, and Schenectady Chemicals. In 1968, New York State ordered that discharges from the landfill be stopped and cleanup work performed; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has overseen the investigation and cleanup since 1980 when GE also agreed to further investigate and conduct cleanup. From 1982 to 1984, some 500 drums and four 30,000-gallon oil storage tanks were removed from the landfill; a slurry wall, clay cap, and leachate collection system were installed. Since 1984, New York State has maintained the landfill and waste disposal off-site and, from 2001 to 2004, under NYSDEC oversight, GE removed 15,000 tons of PCB-contaminated soil and sediment.

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