Hudson River Toxic PCB Cleanup

Making continued progress in this David vs. Goliath battle to restore the health and full economic potential of the valley’s most important natural resource depends on sustained citizen action.

What's the plan?

For 40 years, Scenic Hudson has been leading the fight for a comprehensive cleanup of cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that polluter General Electric dumped in the Hudson River from the 1940s to the 1970s. Despite achieving an early victory when GE completed six years of dredging of contaminated “hotspots” in the upper Hudson (2009-2015), significant amounts of these toxins remain in the river’s water and sediment, both in dredged and undredged areas. 

In April 2019, we achieved another partial victory when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it lacked the data to determine if the cleanup had achieved its goal of being “protective of human health and the environment,” reversing its long-standing, but unsubstantiated, claim it was a success. However, the EPA simultaneously issued polluter GE a certificate of completion for the project, creating a legal hurdle to compel the company to continue the cleanup. 

In August 2019, New York State sued the EPA for issuing the certificate.

Scenic Hudson will continue our longstanding battle until the Hudson River — along with the residents of waterfront communities and the millions of people who enjoy boating and fishing on it — get the cleanup they deserve. Mobilizing citizens and communities to join our campaign is essential for achieving progress.

What's at stake?

  • A 200-mile stretch of the river — from the foothills of the Adirondacks to New York Harbor — remains one of America’s largest Superfund sites
  • PCBs have accumulated in the land, sediment and food web all along the river, harming wildlife as well as humans who come in contact with these toxins through the water and air
  • It is unsafe to eat fish from the river, and particularly dangerous to children and women of child-bearing age 
  • PCB contamination postpones significant economic opportunities along the riverfront, as well as resumption of a once-lucrative commercial fishing industry and deep-draft shipping on the Champlain Canal
  • It also prevents the river’s fullest potential for being an engine of the valley’s tourism economy

Scenic Hudson and our partners have long fought to get GE to take responsibility for this toxic disaster. Supported by community partners and our dedicated members, we remain present at every stage of this historic remediation and continue to press for the most comprehensive cleanup possible. We will continue the fight, as long as it takes, to reclaim the Hudson’s full potential.  

How can I get involved?

Do everything possible — speak with state and local officials, draft letters to the editor—to hold GE accountable for completing a cleanup the Hudson River and all New Yorkers deserve.

Soon, designated Hudson River trustee agencies (New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, NOAA and the U.S. Dept. of the Interior) will move forward with a Natural Resource Damages Assessment (NRDA). The Superfund Law requires GE to pay to restore the Hudson River and compensate the public for the harm to natural resources its pollution caused. Through the NRDA process, the funds obtained from GE will be used to restore wildlife habitats and riverfront communities. There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in on the NRDA in the future.

Learn how to get involved and how you can help restore the river at

Success Stories


Supplemental Findings: “Hudson River PCBs Site Proposed Second Five Year Review–Supplement to Technical Review,” Feb. 2019, PDF 3.8 MB

Summary Findings: “Hudson River PCBs Site Proposed Second Five Year Review Report – Technical Review” June 2017, PDF 320K

Summary: Technical Review of EPA Five-Year Review, Sept. 5, 2017

NYSDEC Independent Analysis, Dec. 20, 2016

NYSDEC Independent Report: “Recommendations to EPA for the ‘Five Year Review Report’ for Hudson River PCBs Site,” Dec. 20, 2016

Report: “Hudson River Angler Study,” Scenic Hudson and Sierra Club, Dec. 2016 

Report: “Hudson River Fish Advisory Outreach Project, 2009-2016 Project Update,” NYS Department of Health, Oct. 2016

Report: Preliminary Results of Hudson River Fish Consumption Surveys, NYS Department of Health, Sept. 2016

Help Needed from Trump, Cuomo to Halt Hudson River Threats, Ned Sullivan, Huffington Post, Jan. 31, 2017

New York to EPA: Don’t Approve GE’s Cleanup of Hudson,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 16, 2016

 Letter to EPA from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asserting that the EPA cannot certify the cleanup as complete, Sept. 16, 2016

G.E. Spent Years Cleaning Up the Hudson. Was It Enough?“, New York Times, Sept. 8. 2016

Press Conference: “DEC Challenges Effectiveness of EPA’s Remedy for Hudson River Cleanup,” Aug. 22, 2016

Hillary Clinton statement “Clean Air, Clean Water are Basic Rights,” April 4, 2016

Hudson Cleanup far from Complete,” op-ed by Ned Sullivan and Aaron Mair, Albany Times Union, Feb. 8, 2016

Selling Out the Hudson,” New York Times, Oct. 9, 2015