Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Attorney General Tish James have announced plans to sue the federal government over PCB cleanup in the Hudson River.
They say a study from the Department of Environmental Conservation shows PCB levels in the river still pose a threat to the public's health and the environment.
Earlier Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced General Electric has met its second completion of remedial action under the Superfund cleanup. GE will not resume dredging the Hudson River, at least for now.
On Thursday, EPA region 2 administrator Pete Lopez announced GE had received the second of three certificates in the PCB cleanup project.
“So effectively, it’s a legal receipt that confirms GE did what it was directed to,” Lopez said.
Lopez says the certification of completion of the remedial action being issued, is not a determination the entire $1.7 billion clean up job is done.
He says they are deferring a decision on the protectiveness remedy until more upper Hudson fish tissue data can be collected.
“If in time we’re not satisfied with the progress of the recovery of the river, we will evaluate if more action will be needed,” Lopez said.
For much of the past decade, GE has dredged the Hudson River in a $1.7 billion project to remove cancer-causing PCBs.
The areas near GE’s plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, as well as a stretch of the river between Schuylerville and Troy, were targeted for the cleanup.
GE dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River from those plants. The cleanup process began in 2009.
The EPA will continue to monitor the river and PCB levels in fish tissue to judge the cleanup's effectiveness. Regional Administrator Pete Lopez says progress on the project to this point has been encouraging, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
"The purpose of the 5-year review is to determine whether the cleanup remedy that the EPA selected, in this case the dredging, capping, habitat restoration, followed by decades of natural recovery, remains protective of human health and the environment," Lopez said. "These reviews take into account all information and data available for a particular site, including fish and sediment sampling data. As you might imagine for the Hudson River, we have a tremendous amount of data, but since dredging ended in late-2015, we only have about two years of post-dredging data."
Officials say the third and final certificate of completion GE needs in the cleanup process is not expected to be issued for another 50 years.