WPCNR WATCH ON THE HUDSON. From the New York Congressional Delegation. May 24, 2017:
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and U.S. Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Nita Lowey, and Eliot Engel today wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling on Administrator Scott Pruitt to incorporate data provided to the EPA as part of its Second Five-Year Review showing the continued presence of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminants in the Hudson River. The members cited the Second Five-Year Review is an opportunity to provide for additional cleanup of the Hudson River.
“When EPA announced the Hudson River cleanup 15 years ago, it was a promise to New Yorkers that the long-damaged river would finally be on the path to a rapid recovery,” the members wrote in their joint letter to the EPA Administrator.
“However, after the cleanup plan was established, EPA discovered that at least 2-3 times more PCB contamination existed in Hudson River sediments than had been assumed; yet EPA did not modify the scope of the cleanup. As a result, the Hudson River remains contaminated at levels far beyond the cleanup targets EPA established. Economic development on the Upper Hudson River has long been stifled by the dark cloud of toxic pollution; communities cannot wait decades longer for a clean and usable river.”
Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a report, “Recommendations to EPA for the “Five Year Review Report” for Hudson River PCBs Site” to address the current conditions of the Hudson River and provide recommendations to the EPA moving forward with the Second Five-Year Review.
DEC recommendations to the EPA include:
- Completing a detailed evaluation of the action plan, in addition to increasing the sampling of sediment and fish tissue to the scale and frequency necessary to optimize the remedy through further remedial work as necessary.
- Expanding the investigation of the site to include performance of a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study for the portion of the site between the Federal Dam at Troy and the Battery in New York City.
- Evaluating remedial alternatives to address the currently uncontrolled unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.
The full text of the members’ joint letter to the Environmental Protection Agency is included here and below:
Dear Administrator Pruitt:
We are writing to request that you ensure the ongoing Second Five Year Review of the Hudson River Superfund Site incorporate data collected and shared with EPA Region 2 that clearly shows the Hudson River remedy is not protective of human health and the environment. The Five Year Review presents an opportunity to realize goals that you have articulated, including the importance of cleaning up the Hudson River pollution, ensuring the Superfund program succeeds in achieving both environmental outcomes and creating jobs. We ask for your help to securing additional clean-up in the Upper Hudson River.
When EPA announced the Hudson River cleanup 15 years ago, it was a promise to New Yorkers that the long-damaged river would finally be on the path to a rapid recovery. However, after the cleanup plan was established, EPA discovered that at least 2-3 times more PCB contamination existed in Hudson River sediments than had been assumed; yet EPA did not modify the scope of the cleanup. As a result, the Hudson River remains contaminated at levels far beyond the cleanup targets EPA established. Economic development on the Upper Hudson River has long been stifled by the dark cloud of toxic pollution; communities cannot wait decades longer for a clean and usable river.
Concerns regarding the efficacy of the EPA approved remedy resulted in a separate analysis of PCB levels in the Hudson River and the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) to conclude more work needs to be done. Long-term “natural attenuation” of PCBs is not a solution to this problem. The PCBs in the Upper Hudson River are continuing to be transported down-river as far as New York harbor and beyond; in fact, scientists studying the New York/New Jersey Harbor have called the legacy of PCB contamination an “economic ball and chain.” PCB levels in fish in the lower Hudson River are not declining as expected, pointing to the need for investigation of downriver contamination and appropriate remedial action. New Yorkers must not be left holding the bag for contamination that will render the Hudson River a Superfund site for generations to come.
New York State has a long and proud history of conservation in conjunction with economic development, and the Hudson River is a national symbol as an American Heritage River. As New Yorkers who live, work and play along the Hudson River, we know that additional cleanup is needed to improve our economy, and health, and quality of life.
Finally, we emphasize that a credible Five Year Review is crucial to ensure the integrity of the federal Superfund program, given that the Hudson is one of the largest and most visible sites in the country. We look forward to working with you to achieve this.