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Scenic Hudson Statement on DEC Review Concluding that PCB Cleanup Fails to Protect Public Health, Environment

Ned Sullivan, President 914 489 4630
Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy & Special Projects 914 489 1568

HUDSON VALLEY—This afternoon state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos issued his agency’s five-year review of the federal Superfund cleanup to rid the upper Hudson River of toxic PCBs. The review concludes that work conducted to date has not been sufficient in meeting public health and environmental goals to protect state residents, restore wildlife in and along the river, and secure the state’s future economic potential.

Relying on criteria used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct its own reviews of the cleanup, the DEC determined that high PCB concentrations in fish continue to pose “human health and ecological risks in excess of EPA’s acceptable risk range.” As a result of higher-than-expected PCB levels remaining in river sediment, the DEC concluded that “the targeted reductions in fish PCB concentrations will not be achieved in the time frames EPA relied upon when choosing the remedial plan for the Hudson River.”

“It’s simple. DEC is calling on the EPA to finish the job and hold GE accountable for cleaning up the Hudson River. If EPA won’t do the job and protect New Yorkers and the environment, DEC is ready to step in and lead,” said Commissioner Seggos.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan stated, “Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos are clearly doing all they can to protect the Hudson River and the region’s residents in the face of a federal agency that is not holding up to its core responsibility to protect human health and the environment. I commend the governor and commissioner for taking this action, for calling for expansion of the investigation to include the lower Hudson all the way to the Battery, and for stating New York will provide the leadership to achieve a clean, healthy Hudson if EPA and GE fail to do so.

“Now is the time for President Obama to act in the final days of his administration and direct the Environmental Protection Agency to acknowledge the latest scientific data and conclude in its five-year review of the Hudson River Superfund site that the agency’s own remedy is not protective and more work needs to be done,” added Mr. Sullivan.

Scenic Hudson has continually called upon the EPA, which has overseen General Electric’s removal of carcinogenic PCBs the company dumped in the river over a 30-year span, to issue its own determination that the cleanup has not been protective of human health and the environment. Irrefutable scientific data collected by GE, the EPA and other agencies—and cited by the DEC and state Attorney General, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—clearly indicate that work completed thus far has failed to meet the mandated goals of the Superfund project.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved nearly 40,000 acres.