ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — General Electric has agreed to do a comprehensive study of PCB contamination of the upper Hudson River shoreline along the 40-mile stretch of river north of Albany where it has been dredging contaminated sediments under a Superfund cleanup project since 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.
"GE takes great pride in what has been accomplished thus far on an extraordinary series of environmental cleanup projects conducted on and near the Hudson River," Ann Klee, GE's vice president of corporate environmental programs, said in a prepared statement. "The agreement announced today builds on the significant sampling and interim remedial work GE already has completed in the floodplain."
The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company expects the river dredging to be completed in 2015 at a cost of about $2 billion. Mark Behan, a company spokesman, said dredging is more than 80 percent complete. This year's work is scheduled to wrap up in November. Floodplain work, habitat reconstruction and monitoring will continue after dredging is finished next year, Behan said.
Until 1977, GE discharged into the river about 1.3 million pounds of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, which were used as coolants in electrical equipment.
"Dredging the river and stopping PCBs from moving down it is the main point of the current Superfund work on the Hudson River," EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said in a statement. "We are now actively addressing the issues of possible PCB contamination on the shoreline properties and floodplains."
EPA estimates the cost of the floodplain study as $20.5 million. GE also agreed to reimburse the EPA for $3.5 million in previous floodplain-related costs. The EPA will decide on the final cleanup plan with input from the public.
The EPA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and GE have collected more than 7,000 soil samples from more than 500 properties along the river since 2000, and GE has installed soil or stone covers and posted warning signs on several properties as a temporary measure pending completion of the comprehensive study and selection of a final cleanup plan for the floodplain.