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Enforcement

Case Summary: GE Agrees to Further Investigate Upper Hudson River Floodplain in a Comprehensive Study to Cost About $20.5 Million

On September 30, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and General Electric Company (GE) entered into a settlement agreement under which the company will conduct a comprehensive study of the contamination in the shoreline areas of the upper Hudson River. The estimated value of this investigation work is $20.5 million. GE will investigate the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in a 40-mile stretch of the Hudson River floodplain from Hudson Falls to Troy, N.Y. and will develop cleanup options.

GE will also reimburse EPA for $3.5 million in floodplain-related past costs for a total of $24 million. Additionally, GE intends to pay EPA’s cost for overseeing the investigation work.

On this page:

“Dredging the river and stopping PCBs from moving down it is the main point of the current Superfund work on the Hudson River. We are now actively addressing the issues of possible PCB contamination on the shoreline properties and floodplains. I encourage the public, local governments and others to become educated and informed on this important aspect of the cleanup. This $20.5 million agreement with GE to comprehensively examine these issues is an important step in our work to protect public health and the environment.” Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck

Information about the General Electric Company

GE is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Conn.

Information about the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site

The Hudson River PCBs Superfund site is located in New York and consists of 200 miles of the river. The Site is one of the largest Superfund Sites in the country. PCBs were widely used as a fire preventive and insulator in the manufacture of electrical devices, like transformers and capacitors, because of their ability to withstand exceptionally high temperatures. During a 30-year period ending in 1977, when EPA banned the production of PCBs, it is estimated that approximately 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were discharged into the Hudson River from two GE capacitor manufacturing plants located in the towns of Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, N.Y.

This settlement agreement is the latest in a series of enforcement agreements that GE has entered into with EPA since 2002 to address dredging and cleanup of the Hudson River. Additional information on the cleanup agreements negotiated with GE are available within the legal documents section of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site Web page.

More information on the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site.

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Pollutants and Environmental Effects

PCBs build up in the environment (bioaccumulate), increasing in concentration as you move up the food chain. The primary health risk associated with the site is the accumulation of PCBs in the human body through eating contaminated fish. Since 1976, high levels of PCBs in fish have led New York State to close various recreational and commercial fisheries and to issue advisories restricting the consumption of fish caught in the Hudson River. PCBs are considered probable human carcinogens and are linked to other adverse health effects such as low birth weight, thyroid disease, and learning, memory, and immune system disorders. PCBs in the river sediment also affect fish and wildlife.

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Summary of the Administrative Order on Consent

The administrative order on consent (AOC) provides for a comprehensive study of the contamination in the floodplain of the upper Hudson River. This will include a human health and ecological risk-based assessment of PCB contamination of over 40 miles of floodplains encompassing more than 3,000 properties extending from Hudson Falls to Troy, N.Y. The agreement includes additional sampling needed to better understand the distribution of PCBs in the floodplain and will require the development of a Feasibility Study (FS) to evaluate remedial cleanup options for the protection of human health and the environment. GE will pay for costs incurred by EPA in overseeing the work performed. The estimated value of this investigation work is $20.5 million. Under the agreement, GE will also pay for EPA’s costs in overseeing the work and reimburse EPA for $3.5 million in floodplain-related past costs.

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Contact Information

For more information contact

Meredith Fishburn
Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
202-564-4790
fishburn.meredith@epa.gov

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