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EPA Plans Public Comment Period on New Information in Final Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments for GE Pittsfield / Housatonic River Site

Release Date: 06/17/04
Contact Information: Contact: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, (617) 918-1064

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2004; Release # 04-06-20

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it plans to accept public comment on new information contained in the revised Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments for the GE Pittsfield / Housatonic River site. The public comment periods are expected to be held later this summer and fall.

The area evaluated in the assessments, known as the "Rest of River," includes the Housatonic River and floodplain alongside the river from the confluence of the river's East and West branches in Pittsfield downstream to Long Island Sound. The assessments are two in a series of reports being prepared by EPA as part of the Consent Decree entered into three and a half years ago by General Electric, EPA and other government agencies.

"In the spirit of full and open participation at this unique site, EPA has decided to afford the public a second round of public comment on the new information contained in these two important documents," said Bob Varney, EPA's New England administrator.

Independent Peer Review Panels, as required in the Consent Decree, reviewed both risk assessments. The two Peer Review Panels consisted of independent members of the scientific community who reviewed the full contents of the draft Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments, respectively, along with a presentation of the risk assessments by EPA, and considered comments from General Electric and the community in developing their individual comments. Although relatively well received by the Peer Review Panels, several issues were raised for further consideration and evaluation.

EPA has released a Responsiveness Summary for both Assessments, which contain the agency's response to comments raised by the panel members. EPA anticipates completing the revised Human Health Risk Assessment later this summer, with a revised Ecological Risk Assessment expected this fall. The comment period will provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in on new information regarding the risks to adults or children who are exposed to PCBs and other contaminants while living or working near the Housatonic River, or using the river and floodplain for agricultural and recreational purposes; as well as new information about the risks to animals that come into contact with contaminants in the river or its floodplain.

Copies of the Responsiveness Summaries can be reviewed at the following locations:

    • Berkshire Athenaeum Public Library Reference Department, Pittsfield, MA
    • Simon's Rock College of Bard Library, Great Barrington, MA
    • Cornwall Public Library, Cornwall, CT
    • Kent Memorial Library (Kent Library Association), Kent, CT
    • Housatonic Valley Association, Cornwall Bridge, CT
    • EPA Records Center, One Congress Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA
Copies can also be found on EPA's web site at: