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Cleaning Our Toxic Nation

Cleaning Our Toxic Nation

History of Superfund
Details of Superfund Act
Current State of Program

Criticisms of Program

Hudson River Case Study

Possible Solutions
References & Links


According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the environmentalists scored big in August 2002 when Christie Todd Whitman, head of the EPA, announced the Record of Decision (ROD). In a joint state and GE-funded effort, the EPA would remove approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the Upper Hudson. GE would be responsible for most of the bill, but the state would contribute since they issued the permit to allow waste disposal in the Hudson Falls and Fort Edward sites. The amount of PCBs removed during this project would be equivalent to about 65 percent of the PCBs present in this stretch of the river. The EPA expects to leave only one part per million of PCBs in the river after the project is completed. The ROD included two phases for the project, the first being a smaller dredge period in which the methods would be monitored to make sure regulations are being met. During this time the EPA expects to dredge 200,000 to 300,000 cubic yards of sediment. Phase II would take place over a longer time period – about five years according to the EPA – and would dredge the remainder of the 2.65 million cubic yards of sediment. The two-phase method was created to alleviate skepticism among local residents, as many felt the EPA was undertaking a project that it could not actually complete (EPA 2002). 

The ROD also expressed a desire to develop and maintain a community involvement plan during both phases of the project. According to Bonnie Bellow of the EPA, 

“We are committed to an open public process that will give affected communities and interested organizations and individuals a chance to really provide input on the critical issues related to this clean up plan. Our goal is to develop a community involvement program that will encourage real dialogue, and I'm talking about real dialogue” (EPA 2002, 15)

            Despite EPA’s progress on the Hudson project, completion seems to be a far-off objective at this point. The Remedial Design/Remedial Action phase of the clean-up has now taken 5 years, and many stakeholders are growing anxious for dredging to begin. In the summer of 2006, EPA announced that dredging would be delayed until the 2008 dredging season. According to
U.S. Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg,

"The Environmental Protection Agency [is] now facing several obstacles beyond our control that make it unrealistic to begin dredging during the 2007 dredging season. We have independently verified the accuracy of the projected construction scheduled provided by GE and, after careful review, must agree that its timeline for the delivery of key pieces of equipment needed for the sediment dewatering and the installation of power lines on the dewatering site is accurate. The review has led us to conclude that [moving] the start of dredging into the 2008 dredging season is unavoidable. We remain very hopeful that GE will begin the site preparation work in the fall of this year, and we will continue the progress we have made toward a cleaner Hudson for local communities and everyone who cherishes the river" ( Bulletin Board)


Collecting sediment samples in the Hudson
A crew collecting sediment samples from the Hudson. Such samples are analyzed to determine the extent of the pollution and inform potential remediation plans.  Photo from

Last updated:  4/30/2007


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