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The Hudson’s still toxic, congressmembers push river cleanup

Posted on April 24, 2024

In a display of bipartisan cooperation, incumbent Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marc Molinaro joined forces this week to condemn what they call the ineffective cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the upper Hudson River. A copy of a letter demanding further remediation sent by them to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Michael Regan has been shared with news outlets.

The Hudson Valley congressmembers urged Regan “to follow the science” and withhold a “protective” determination anticipated as his agency’s verdict after a five-year review of cleanup efforts.  They asked the EPA to acknowledge that the dredging remedy of the upper Hudson River had failed to meet the rapid-reduction objectives of the 2002 decision, and that additional remedial action was warranted.

The remediation was judged necessary as a result of the discharging practices of two General Electric-operated capacitor manufacturing plants in the river at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward. Nearly 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were discharged directly into the river between the years 1947 and 1977. A 200-mile stretch of the river downstream to New York City was designated a Superfund site in 1984.

“For decades, General Electric discharged toxic PCBs into our precious river,” said Ryan, “putting their profit ahead of the health and safety of Hudson Valley families, including the more than 100,000 people who rely on the river for drinking water.”

Molinaro agreed. “Corporations dumped toxins into the river,” he said, “then left us to deal with the environmental and economic aftermath.”

Judged responsible, GE was compelled from 2009 through 2016 to undertake dredging operations intended to remediate the river bottom sediment. Over that period, the company reported it had removed an estimated 2.783 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment.

All but one congressional representative in districts abutting the polluted section of the river added their signatures to the letter. The only exception in either party representing a district along the polluted portion of the river who did not sign onto Ryan and Molinaro’s letter was Republican Elise Stefanik. Hudson Falls and Fort Edward are both contained within her congressional district.

“The health and beauty of the Hudson River is critical to the economic vitality of the communities surrounding it,” the congressional members said, “as well as the state and the country at large. Additional remedial action is warranted.”


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