GE Hudson-Dredging Report Faulted as MisleadingThomas Black
General Electric Co.’s report on its cleanup of contaminants in New York’s Hudson River was called misleading and inaccurate by two U.S. agencies involved in monitoring the project’s progress.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of the Interior said GE didn’t recognize damage to fish and waterfowl from the chemicals it dumped in the river and wasn’t accurate about recommendations for expanded dredging. GE said Dec. 27 in issuing the report that the work it’s doing, which has so far cost more than $1 billion, would “fully resolve” its liability.
“We believe it is important for the public to understand our disagreement with a number of statements in the report,” said Thomas Brosnan, the Hudson River trustee for NOAA, and Kathryn Jahn, the Hudson River case manager for the Interior Department, in a letter to the company.
The cleanup’s goal is to remove 95 percent of the polychlorinated biphenyls contaminating a 40-mile (64-kilometer) stretch of the river near Albany. PCBs, which scientists have said are probably human carcinogens, were used in transformers and electrical equipment before being banned in 1977.
The report to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was a “comprehensive and factual analysis of actual Hudson River data,” GE said in an e-mailed statement.
The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company said it’s halfway done with dredging contaminated sediment from the river, a cleanup project ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The company expects to finish in 2016.
The “EPA said in November it is not contemplating ordering additional dredging,” GE said in the statement. “We agree with the EPA’s decision.”
The two federal agencies, which along with the state of New York comprise the Hudson River Trustees, also took issue with how GE in the report discussed permits for discharging PCBs, as well as with how it characterized a study on two fish species and described the trustees’ handling of information related to the cleanup.
Asked at a press briefing last week about the report, DiNapoli said, “I think it’s fair to say I was somewhat disappointed.”