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General Electric and the Unholy Contamination

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David Gargill from Harper’s gives us a harrowing account of decades of carcinogenic pollution from GE to the Hudson River, and its effects today (subscription only):

Before these “probable human carcinogens” were banned in 1977, PCBs [Polychlorine Biphenyl, a known carcinogen] were wantonly spewed from GE’s plants, and they continue to be detected at high levels in riverbed sediments and fish. For years, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had abrogated its enforcement authority, unofficially sanctioning GE’s malfeasance. But pressure from several national NGOs headquartered in New York, as well as from Hudson-centric groups downriver from the plants, furnished a fresh impetus to act. Environmentalists had seized upon dredging the riverbed as the surest cure for the Hudson’s ills, and by the early 1980s the DEC warmed to the idea of doing its job, pushing for a dredging remedy to be paid for by GE. When the corporation and its unlikely allies in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls—company towns distrustful of bureaucracies—proved immovable objects for the state, the EPA stepped in, bringing the full force of the federal government to bear. In 2002, the agency issued a formal decision that called for dredging, ending GE’s overt resistance and getting the ball rolling (albeit in the manner of Rube Goldberg) toward the $780 million project that commenced this past spring. Over the next six years, some 1.8 million cubic yards of sediment containing roughly 250,000 pounds of PCBs will be removed from 490 acres of riverbed.

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Written by pavanvan

March 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm

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