C L E A N U P O P T I O N S
General Electric has spent over $100 million to convince the people of the Hudson River area that the EPA's solution for cleaning up the river is not the right one.
From a web site (http://www.hudsonvoice.com/) to commercial advertisements in the area around the river, their
advertisement campaign has appeared to be successful in swaying public opinion. However, it appears this is not enough.
The two options that were on the drawing board before the EPA made their decision to dredge the river in August of 2001 are these:
Let the river fix itself
This option is the one that GE preferred. Over time more and more sediment goes over the old sediment and in theory would bury the PCBs enough that
they would no longer pose a threat. GE has repeatedly stated that dredging the river would cause more harm to the river than good. According to an EPA
report, upper Hudson River PCB levels are down 90% since 1977. More than 60 local communities have stated opposition to dredging, and
local newspaper polls show the public opposes dredging by a ratio of 2 to 1. GE says that their plan would meet the EPA's goal of reducing levels to 0.4
parts per million at about the same time as dredging would (2010-2011). Similarly, they state that the ultimate goal of 0.2 ppm to 0.05 ppm would be
achieved within five to eight years of each other.
Dredge the river
This option involves sucking the PCBs out of the river bed. It has met violent opposition from General Electric, however, it appears that the EPA
will force GE to clean the river by this method according to an August 1, 2001 announcement from the EPA. The EPA and GE have been meeting to
discuss the standards required for the cleanup behind closed doors. In 1984 the EPA proposed and rejected dredging because it saw that river
conditions improving and that dredging could cause massive damage to river ecology. The EPA has acknowledged that their goal of permitting one half-pound
of fish to be consumed every other month will not be met until 2031 after dredging. The proposal for dredging the river is currently to remove 80,000 pounds
of mud for every pound of PCBs removed. After this, 2 billion pounds of sand and gravel would be put on the river bed to cover up PCBs left after
dredging. According to GE, 76 acres of shallow-water submerged aquatic habitat and 21 acres of near-shore wetlands would
be destroyed or damaged.Removal of this habitat will kill or displace fish and fish eggs and that 17 miles of shoreline would be damaged or
destabilized. The final location for the removed sediment has not yet been determined, and the two proposed towns where the sediments would be temporarily
stored in dewatering facilities have strongly opposed the plan.
So who's right?
Who's plan is best? Obviously, this is up for debate. The actual effectiveness of each plan would not be known unless it was actually done, and it appears
that dredging will be the one chosen. The information being pumped out both sides is difficult to interpret as to what is truth and what isn't.