U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- A coalition of 11 environmental groups has
urged the federal government to reject General Electric Co.'s "good
faith offer" to dredge PCBs from the Hudson River.
Friends of a Clean Hudson said that while GE seemed committed to
designing a cleanup plan for the Hudson River and performing other
preparatory work, it provided no assurances it would do the cleanup,
leaving the issue open instead to future negotiation.
"We are gravely disappointed that GE's offer has not met the clear
threshold for a good faith offer," the letter to Environmental
Protection Agency Region Two Administrator Jane Kenny said.
"GE's response indicates its continuing refusal to accept
responsibility for full liability at the Hudson River PCB Superfund
site," it said.
The letter also noted that GE has delayed paying the EPA $37
million for costs the agency has assumed so far drawing up the Hudson
River dredging record of decision. That suggested getting money from
GE would be "an uphill battle," the environmentalists said.
GE was required to submit a good faith offer outlining how it
would comply with the EPA dredging order by April 8 or it could have
been hit with fines tripling the costs of the cleanup. The dredging
is expected to cost about $500 million.
GE submitted a five-page offer just before the deadline April 8.
The company said the offer was the first step in what it hoped would
be a cooperative effort with the EPA.
IF EPA rejects GE's offer, federal officials could perform the
cleanup themselves and bill GE, or force GE to do the cleanup. They
could also fine the company.
In February, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman ordered GE to
dredge tons of toxic PCBs from hotspots in the Hudson River north of
Albany. Whitman was following through on a plan first proposed by the
Clinton administration 12 months earlier.
GE's plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, N.Y., discharged 1.3
million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls before the federal
government banned the substance in 1977. PCBs had been used as
GE had fought against being forced to clean up PCBs from the
river, spending millions of dollars to rally opposition. GE
maintained that dredging sediment could stir up the PCBs from the
riverbed and into the moving river water, making the problem worse.
Friends of a Clean Hudson is composed of national, state and local
environmental groups. They include the Appalachian Mountain Club,
Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corp., Coast Alliance, Environmental
Advocates, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Natural Resources Defense
Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York Rivers
United, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Sierra Club.
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