Kathy Parrent, Natural Resources Defense Council, 212-727-2700
Longtime Debate Ends as EPA Approves Plan to Dredge PCB Contaminants From Hudson Riverbed
NEW YORK (August 1, 2001) - Friends of a Clean Hudson, a coalition of more than a dozen national, state and local environmental groups, applauds Administrator Whitman's decision to uphold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plans for a full Hudson River PCB cleanup. The announcement marks a huge victory for the Hudson River and the millions of New Yorkers and their families who live and recreate along its shores.
"We praise Christine Whitman for making this decision - a decision based on science and protection of human health," said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, Inc. "Now is the time for reconciliation. Our hope is that all the parties will work together to ensure this cleanup is done right and without unwarranted delays. Friends of a Clean Hudson is committed to working closely with communities up and down the river to make this critically important project a complete success."
"We endorse the EPA's commitment to a comprehensive cleanup and accept the agency's decision to modify the dredging plan to include a staged operation and performance reviews," said Alex Matthiessen, Hudson Riverkeeper. "Common sense dictates that you stop and evaluate progress at each stage of the process and make adjustments as you go to mitigate unforeseen problems. We are behind monitoring and oversight to assure an effective cleanup and to provide the safety assurances upriver communities are looking for."
Friends of a Clean Hudson stated that this positive decision for the Hudson River would not have been possible without the dedicated staff at EPA's regional office in New York. The coalition members saluted these professionals for working tirelessly for more than 10 years to develop a scientifically sound plan to remediate the country's largest Superfund site.
Elected officials also were energetically praised for applying pressure where and when it was needed. Those specifically cited included: Gov. George E. Pataki, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Comptroller H. Carl McCall, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty, Senator Hillary Clinton, other members of the New York and New Jersey congressional delegation, Acting New Jersey Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco, and the 69 Hudson Valley municipalities that passed pro-dredging resolutions.
"We hope that General Electric will join the key stakeholders along the river to move this ahead. This is an opportunity for GE , a great way to get the company started on a new era by cleaning up a part of its past," said Val Washington, executive director of Environmental Advocates.
"As EPA continues to move towards finalizing the Record of Decision, we implore GE to refrain from continuing its campaign against a cleanup that scientists and now the Bush Administration support. We call upon incoming GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, for the sake of the communities who have long been exposed to PCB contamination, to do the right thing by these communities and allow EPA's continuing efforts on behalf of the river and its residents to proceed unhampered. We urge GE to join us in restoring America's greatest river," said Katherine Kennedy, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
A full cleanup will bring a vast range of economic benefits flowing back into communities along the Hudson River, especially upriver communities, according to Friends of a Clean Hudson. EPA's proposed plan is estimated to generate 3,500 jobs, $88 million in wages for the operation of equipment, construction and monitoring over a five-year period, and an additional $53 million into Washington and Saratoga counties. Due to the cleanup, the entire Hudson Valley will benefit from increased property values and a revived commercial fishery, once the economic anchor of the region.
Friends of Clean Hudson member organizations vowed to continue being a watchdog group to safeguard the interests of the river's communities as the process continues. The coalition plans to help bring about a cleanup that serves the best interests of all.
Friends of a Clean Hudson is a coalition of national, state and regional organizations fighting for the restoration of the Hudson River through the aggressive removal of PCB-contaminated sediments. The coalition comprises: the Appalachian Mountain Club, Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation, Coast Alliance, Environmental Advocates, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York Rivers United, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, Inc., Sierra Club.