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EPA SIGNS FINAL CLEANUP PLAN FOR HUDSON RIVER; MAKES PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT A TOP PRIORITY
Release Date: 02/01/2002
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency C Region 2
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
290 Broadway - New York, New York 10007-1866
EPA SIGNS FINAL CLEANUP PLAN FOR HUDSON RIVER;
MAKES PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT A TOP PRIORITY
Agency to Hold Public Meetings in Saratoga Springs and Poughkeepsie
FOR RELEASE: Friday, February 1, 2002
(#02005) New York, New York – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman and Regional Administrator Jane Kenny today took a major step toward a healthier Hudson River in signing the Record of Decision (ROD) on a cleanup plan for the river. The final plan calls for dredging 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson to remove an estimated 150,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The Agency also announced that it will establish a field office in the upper Hudson region staffed by an experienced senior manager who will coordinate design activities working with the community.
“The final cleanup plan illustrates this Administration’s commitment to safeguarding human health and the environment, ” said Whitman. “The Hudson River is a national treasure and this plan brings us closer to one of my overall goals -- leaving our water purer for future generations. We are moving ahead with this cleanup using an open process and will incorporate performance standards that promote accountability and ensure that we are protecting human health and the environment.”
“We are committing to an open process that will give affected communities and interested parties the chance to comment on critical issues, such as facility siting and the development of performance standards,” said Kenny, who heads EPA’s Regional office responsible for carrying out the cleanup plan. “Working through partnerships as we move forward with the cleanup will ensure that we meet our environmental goals.”
Before dredging can begin, EPA must prepare a design for the project. This design phase, which will include the development of performance standards and the siting of dewatering facilities in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, is expected to take about three years.
The ROD contains performance standards for air quality and noise, consistent with state and federal law. Other important performance standards, including those for resuspension and production rates during dredging, will be developed over the next year with input from the public and in consultation with the state and federal natural resource trustees. These enforceable performance standards will be based on environmental and scientific criteria to promote accountability and to ensure that the cleanup meets the human health and environmental protection objectives of the ROD. The performance standards will be peer reviewed by a panel of independent scientists before they are applied to the cleanup. EPA also will conduct extensive monitoring throughout the life of the project to evaluate whether the cleanup is achieving its intended environmental goals.
Dredging will eventually be conducted in two phases. The details of where and how much sediment will be dredged during the first phase will be worked out during the design. The control of continuing discharges of PCBs into the river from General Electric facilities is also a concern. General Electric is expected to take actions to control a major source of PCBs coming from its Hudson Falls plant. Implementation of this source control action is expected to begin during the design period for EPA’s cleanup plan.
A key element of the ROD is the commitment to a rigorous and meaningful community involvement program for the Hudson River cleanup. Building on the extensive public process followed during the Hudson River Reassessment, the Agency will bring together elected officials, community groups, key environmental organizations and members of the public to take a fresh look at the community involvement process. The development of a new community involvement program will be facilitated by EPA consultants experienced in consensus building. They will conduct interviews with groups and individuals to identify key stakeholders, assess priority concerns and solicit suggestions for a new process. EPA will then convene the groups and individuals identified by the consultants for a series of facilitated sessions to develop a workable process. Jane Kenny will host public meetings in Saratoga Springs and in Poughkeepsie to discuss the ROD and discuss next steps.
EPA will continue to keep the public informed throughout the project. The Agency has set up a list server, an electronic news service to notify the public about meetings and other important milestones. The Agency will hold frequent public meetings, distribute fact sheets and other written materials and regularly update its Hudson River Web site. During the design phase, the Agency will maintain regular contact with interested parties to get input on key issues.
A 200-mile portion of the Hudson River was declared a federal Superfund site in 1984 because of widespread PCB contamination. The PCBs have bioaccumulated in fish and pose a potential risk of cancer and other health problems for the people who eat them. The final ROD on a plan to clean up the river was developed after years of scientific study and with extensive public input. EPA received more than 70,000 comments on the proposed cleanup plan. The PCBs were deposited over a 30-year period from two General Electric plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York. EPA also reaffirmed its commitment to a full public process that encourages meaningful discourse on critical issues such as the development of performance standards, dewatering facility siting and a range of issues with the potential to impact Hudson River communities.
Public meetings to explain the ROD and how the Agency will move forward during the design phase will be held on February 13 at the Saratoga Sheraton Hotel – 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 and on February 20 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, 40 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. Both meetings start at 7:00 p.m. Copies of the final Record of Decision and a summary of responses to the 70,000 public comments are available on EPA’s Web site at www.epa.gov/hudson and at the 16 information repositories (listed on the web site).
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