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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Adds Wappinger Creek in Dutchess County, N.Y. to the Federal Superfund List Sediment Contaminated with Mercury, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (rodriguez.elias@epa.gov)
(212) 637-3664

(New York, N.Y. – Sept. 7, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week added a portion of Wappinger Creek in Dutchess County, N.Y. to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Sediment within the two mile long tidal portion of the creek, which is downstream from an industrial park, is contaminated with mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other pollutants. Mercury in sediment can build up in the tissue of fish and other wildlife and pose a threat to people who eat them. Exposure to mercury can damage people’s nervous systems and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, solid waste and other organic substances, and can cause cancer.

“The EPA is committed to the cleanup of Wappinger Creek to protect the health of Dutchess County residents,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Now that part of Wappinger Creek is on the federal Superfund list, the EPA will take action to clean up this legacy of toxic pollution.”

For more than 180 years, an industrial park along the creek was used for hat manufacturing, textile dyeing, manufactured gas plant operations, metal plating, ammunition production, chemical manufacturing and other activities. These industrial activities contaminated the creek and surrounding communities. There have been several investigations and cleanups within the industrial park, however, contamination adjacent to and downstream of the industrial park still presents a risk. The portion of Wappinger Creek that has been placed on the federal Superfund list includes locations in the Village of Wappingers Falls and the Towns of Poughkeepsie and Wappinger.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommended including this site on the federal Superfund list. The EPA determined that inclusion in the federal Superfund program is the best course of action to clean up the contamination. The Superfund final designation makes sites in the program eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups. The EPA took public comment for 60 days and considered public input before finalizing the decision.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups rather than passing the costs on to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for contaminating a site, and holds those parties accountable for cleanup costs.

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for final and proposed sites, on the day of publication visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites.