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GLIN==> Whitman decides to dredge Hudson River

United States Environmental Protection Agency
Communications, Education, And Media Relations (1703A)
Washington, DC 20460

Environmental News



Chris Paulitz 202-564-9556 / paulitz.chris@epa.gov
Bonnie Bellow, 212-637-3660 / bellow.bonnie@epa.gov

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today moved forward on a decision to
clean up PCB pollution from the upper Hudson River.  The Agency is
circulating for interagency review a draft proposal that in major respects
tracks the plan proposed last December that would dredge as many as 2.65
million cubic yards from the river.

"The Administration is committed to cleaning up the Hudson River in a manner
that is environmentally sound and is responsive to the concerns of the
affected communities," said Whitman.

To that end, EPA intends to incorporate the draft cleanup plan with a series
of performance standards by which the cleanup will be evaluated regularly.
The performance indicators being considered will include measuring PCB
levels in the soil, and the water column as well as measuring the percentage
of dredged material
that gets re-suspended.  Based on these objective scientific indicators, EPA
will determine at each stage of the project whether it is scientifically
justified to continue the cleanup.  PCB levels in fish will be monitored
throughout the project as well.

PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls, and some 1.1 million pounds are thought
to be deposited in the river.  The substance has been linked to cancer in
humans and bioaccumulates in fish.  The chemical was banned in 1977 but
prior to that time General Electric had been dumping the chemical for more
than 35 years.

Since the initial cleanup proposal last year, the Agency has received more
than 70,000 comments from a variety of interested parties regarding the
proposed plan.  Many of these comments came from individuals who live along
the upper Hudson River and who are concerned about the environmental and
economic impacts of dredging.  In addition, recent studies conducted since
last December by the National Academy of Sciences and the United States
Geological Survey raise questions about the impacts of river dredging.  The
plan is expected to ensure the proposal for cleaning up the river will not
put individuals at greater risk of PCB exposure.

Several performance criteria will be included in the final Record of
Decision, which is expected in late September, with others to be developed
during the design phase and in consultation with the communities. Following
the issuance of the Record of Decision, EPA will establish a community
involvement program that will provide the public with continued opportunity
for early and meaningful input during the remedial design
phase, which will include siting and other local impacts.  This enhanced
community involvement program will remain active throughout the phases of
the project.

R-125                                   ###

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