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EPA Announces Opportunity for Public to Present Comments to Peer Review Panel Regarding Ecological Risk Assessment for the Housatonic River

Release Date: 12/29/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced the opportunity for members of the public to present comments to a peer review panel evaluating a recently-completed ecological risk assessment for a major section of Housatonic River in western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The area evaluated in the assessment, 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 assessment is one in a series of reports being prepared by EPA as part of the Consent Decree negotiated three years ago between EPA, General Electric and other government agencies.

The peer review panel will meet from Tuesday, January 13, through Friday, January 16, in the ballroom of the Cranwell Mansion at the Cranwell Inn, 55 Lee Rd., Lenox. The panel will meet from 9 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Thursday. The panel will also meet, as needed, between 9 am and 1 pm on Friday.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting as observers. In addition, time will be set aside on Tuesday, January 13, for the public to present comments to the peer review panel. The remaining time will be for the peer review panel to discuss the questions posed in its charge. Once the panel begins its deliberations, there will no longer be an opportunity for public comment.

EPA will consider the comments from the peer review panel members and prepare a written response to these comments prior to finalizing the Ecological Risk Assessment. EPA has retained SRA International Inc. (SRA, formerly Marasco Newton Group) to independently administer the peer review process.

Anyone wishing to make comments to the peer review panel must register by January 6, 2004. Registration can be completed by any of the following means:

      • calling the SRA Housatonic Peer Review toll-free line at (866) 379-5715;
      • sending a facsimile to (703) 516-9108;
      • sending an e-mail to; or,
      • registering on-line at
Please include your contact information. Everyone who has registered will be informed by phone or e-mail on how long they will be allowed to speak. Space is limited, and only those who register by January 6 will be allowed to make comments at the meeting. An equal amount of time will be allotted per each entity commenting and panel members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the commenters.

Comments should focus on the questions posed in the Charge for the Ecological Risk Assessment. The full text of the Charge can be found at:

The risk assessment and related documents, including a list of the panel members and public comments on the HHRA received during the comment period, are available on the EPA’s Web site at Hard copies of these materials as well as other information on the site are available for review at the following locations:

In Massachusetts:

      • Simon’s Rock College of Bard, 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington
      • Berkshire Athenaeum Public Library, 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield.
      • EPA Records Center, Boston, MA
      • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Springfield.
In Connecticut:
      • Housatonic Valley Association, 150 Kent Road, Cornwall Bridge;
      • Kent Memorial Library, 32 North Main Street, Kent;
      • Cornwall Library, Pine Street, Cornwall
      • Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford