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EPA Proposes Quality of Life Standards to Minimize the Impacts of the Hudson River Cleanup on Local Communities

Release Date: 12/19/2003
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(#03144) New York, N.Y. - Honoring a long-standing commitment to the public, EPA today released draft quality of life performance standards intended to reduce the effects of dredging; sediment processing, transferring and dewatering; and support operations on people, businesses, recreation, and community activities in the project area for the Hudson River cleanup. Draft performance standards were developed by EPA, in consultation with the state and the federal Natural Resource Trustees, for air quality, noise, odor, light, and navigation. EPA will fully consider public comments on the performance standards before they are finalized and incorporated into project design plans.

"In developing the quality of life performance standards, EPA has carefully considered the potential impacts on Upper Hudson communities and has adopted strict cleanup guidelines to minimize and address them," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "EPA will make every effort to resolve any complaints and operate the cleanup project in a manner that meets the performance standards. I look forward to working with local communities to address your concerns about quality of life issues."

EPA will review project design plans for consistency with the quality of life performance standards, and will oversee cleanup activities to ensure that they are met. Compliance with the quality of life performance standards will be monitored during construction, operation and demobilization. EPA will work with local officials and communities through various stakeholder groups, including the Citizens Advisory Group (CAG), to keep them up-to-date on compliance with the performance standards. EPA will investigate instances in which the standards are exceeded and/or complaints are raised and will take appropriate steps in response.

Before dredging begins, a Remedial Action Community Health and Safety Plan will be developed, with input from the public, to provide for community notification of ongoing health and safety issues and protection of the community from physical and other hazards. Hours of operation will be addressed in a future design report, which will be made available to the public for input.

The following are brief summaries of the five quality of life performance standards:

      Air Quality Standard - The goal of the air quality standard is to minimize effects on people's health and the environment from air emissions during the cleanup. Air impacts at dredging sites, on barges and at land-based facilities are expected to be minimal. The primary pollutant identified as a potential risk to human health is PCBs. Other air pollutants such as particulates and ozone (from project-related equipment emissions) also pose potential risks. The performance standard for air quality calls for the monitoring of PCBs in the air at sampling locations. Monitoring will be done for other pollutants, if needed, based on the results of the design work. Air monitoring stations will be placed around the perimeter of the sediment processing area and at dredging locations.

      Odor Standard - The standard is designed to minimize unwanted odors from the project. The two potential sources of odor from the project are construction equipment and dredged material from the river itself. Nuisance odors from construction equipment are not anticipated to be a significant problem, because such equipment is used routinely on most construction projects with few complaints. The performance standard for odor requires the monitoring of hydrogen sulfide, control of the sources of potential odors, and ongoing follow up of any odor complaints. Odor monitoring will be done at the shoreline for dredging operations or site perimeter for facility operations.

      Lighting Standard - To ensure worker safety, lights will be used to illuminate cleanup operations. Lighting systems will be used to illuminate nighttime dredging and in-river transport operations, as well as land-based sediment processing/transfer facility operations. Lighting at the sediment processing/transfer facilities and dredging operations will be directed toward work areas and away from neighboring properties. Measures that will be used to minimize impacts from light include proper positioning of lights, beam direction, and shielding. Compliance with the standard will require the monitoring of light levels at the shoreline for dredging operations or site perimeter for facility operations. In addition, monitoring may be done closer to residential areas or businesses when needed to further assess light-level effects.

      Navigation Standard - The navigation standard is designed to avoid unnecessary interference with or the slowdown of vessels unrelated to the cleanup that are within the project area. Environmental dredging in the channels will be conducted in a way that minimizes disruption to river traffic. Targeted dredging will be sequenced and directed to ensure minimal impacts to navigation within the river. Compliance with the standard for navigation will be monitored by EPA in consultation with the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC) and/or other appropriate agencies. It will be evaluated based on criteria such as vessel traffic, wait times at locks, and complaints received.

      Noise Standard - The principal objective of the noise performance standard is to minimize the effects of noise from the project on the quality of life in the surrounding communities. The noise levels allowed under this performance standard are much lower than levels that would result in a health concern. In developing performance standards for noise, EPA considered the effects of daytime and nighttime dredging and dewatering activities near residential areas. For example, a more stringent residential noise standard has been developed for nighttime hours. This lower standard will also apply to mixed commercial and residential areas.

The draft quality of life performance standards and related fact sheets are available at the information repositories located in Glens Falls, Ft. Edward (Hudson River Field Office), Ballston Spa, Albany, Poughkeepsie, and New York City (EPA Region 2 offices) and in Edgewater, New Jersey. Electronic versions can be found on the EPA project Web site ( Copies are also available in print and on CD-ROM by calling the Hudson River Field Office.

The 60-day public comment period begins on December 19 and closes on February 17, 2004. EPA will host public forums on the draft quality of life performance standards on January 14 (Ft. Edward) and on January 15 (Albany).