Environmental Groups Praise State and City Comptrollers for Stand on PCBs

Both officials back GE shareholder resolution prompting the company to take responsibility for PCB pollution in the Hudson River

POUGHKEEPSIE (April 24, 2001)- Environmental leaders are praising New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall and New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi for voting the respective state and city shares in support of the General Electric Co. Share Owners Proposal No. 3, which calls on GE to address issues concerning PCB contamination along the Hudson River and other areas. The vote of more than 36 million shares owned by the city and more than 31 million held by the state sends a strong message to GE that New Yorker's want it to take responsibility for PCB contamination of the Hudson River.

"We applaud Mr. McCall and Mr. Hevesi for supporting this proposal and recognizing that GE 's opposition to a Hudson River PCB cleanup is financially unsound and corporately irresponsible." said Rich Schiafo, environmental project manger for Scenic Hudson, Inc. "The backing by the state's top fiscal officers adds to the broad-based citizen support for removing toxic PCBs from our river."

GE Share Owner Proposal No. 3, as presented by The Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, N.J. and others, calls on GE to report how much it has spent on media, public relations and lobbying related to PCBs and laws and regulations on hazardous substances. If passed the resolution also would require GE to disclose what it has actually spent on cleaning up PCBs.

Shareowners will vote on this resolution at the GE Annual Shareholder meeting in Atlanta on Wednesday, April 25.

GE has undertaken an unprecedented, multimillion-dollar misleading media campaign to convince residents of the Hudson Valley that PCBs are not harmful, that the river is cleaning itself and that an environmental dredging project would be devastating.

"Most shareholders don't know how the proxy works," said Andy Mele, executive director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. "If they throw out the voting form, as most folks do, it counts as a vote for the management's position. If every GE shareholder used the power of their vote, the way Mr. McCall and Mr. Hevesi have, GE would lose its cloak of secrecy."

Many individuals and groups, including the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection, have asked GE to disclose what they are spending on their media campaign. GE has refused to tell.

"We are glad that Mr. Hevesi and Mr. McCall support this proposal and are taking responsible action to hold GE accountable for its past disposal practices of toxic, health-threatening PCBs," said Sarah Chasis, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Stockholders and residents of the Hudson Valley should know what GE is spending to shirk their responsibility to clean up the Hudson. The health of the Hudson River and valley residents are threatened by toxic PCBs, and it is time to put money towards a cleanup instead of media and public relations," said Chris Ballantyne, Sierra Club.

This is a joint release of the following groups: Environmental Advocates, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Natural Resources Defense Council, Scenic Hudson, Sierra Club