New York Sues EPA for Halting GE Cleanup of Hudson River

Albany, Hudson River
Downtown Albany and the Hudson River, Albany, N.Y.

Officials in the state of New York stated that they will sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency for allowing GE to stop cleaning up the Hudson River of PCB contamination before the work was finished.

GE spent $1.7B over eight years on cleanup, including six years of dredging the Hudson River, under a 2006 consent decree with the EPA. In interviews last week, EPA officials said they lacked enough data to require more dredging by GE under the decree. But critics pushing for a broader cleanup say too much PCB-contaminated sediment still remains in the river.

In January of 2018, GE requested EPA approval of its progress. As of that time, GE had completed removal of 2.75 million cubic yards (2.1 million cubic meters) of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated (PCB) sediment from the Hudson River, toxic pollution from the production of transformers, capacitors, and electric motors that occurred between 1947 and 1977, and was awaiting approval from the EPA that the job was complete.

State officials say GE’s work is “incomplete,” and the EPA’s issuance of a “certificate of completion” could make it harder for the agency to later require GE to perform more dredging or other remedial measures.

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo and state attorney general Letitia James made the move shortly after the EPA said GE could stop dredging until further studies showed whether it had done enough cleanup to protect the environment and public health.

GE said the EPA decision confirmed it had “successfully completed the Hudson River dredging project,” and pledged to collect more environmental data to assess river conditions.

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