Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

“Albany Times Union: NY Threatens Lawsuit if EPA Deems Hudson Dredging is Complete”

December 15, 2017

As published by The Albany Times Union, on December 14, 2017.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that he and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will file a lawsuit against the federal government to force continued PCB-dredging of the Hudson River if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determines there is no additional cleanup necessary.

The state has been pushing General Electric Co. to do more after it completed dredging in 40-mile stretch of the river between Fort Edward and Troy in 2015. The company claims it has met the terms of its agreement with the EPA to clean up PCBs in the river.

State officials believe otherwise.

“The Hudson River is a critical economic engine and environmental treasure and New York will not allow PCB contamination to continue wreaking havoc on this vital resource,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The data is clear: the job is not done and the EPA cannot declare that this remediation is complete. If they do, New York will take any action necessary to hold them accountable for ensuring our waterways are protected and properly restored.”

Cuomo’s announcement was billed as the second proposal of his 2018 State of the State agenda.

GE filed a request for a certificate of completion from the EPA last December, and the agency has until Dec. 23 to respond.

In addition to a lawsuit, Cuomo is pledging that the state Department of Environmental Conservation will withdraw its concurrence with the EPA’s 2002 Record of Decision, which guided the cleanup. The Cuomo administration claims that EPA relied on flawed modeling for effectiveness of the PCB remediation effort.

Earlier this year, DEC announced that the state invested $2 million to gather about 1,600 water samples from the Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in November, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos warned of a possible lawsuit and wrote that the state sampling of the river showed it is up to three times more contaminated than the EPA originally estimated.

“In light of the overwhelming evidence and data that the remedy is not protective of human health and environment, EPA legally cannot certify the PCB remedy for the Upper Hudson River as complete,” Seggos wrote.

GE has contended that not only has the dredging served its intended purpose, but that the state was key in decisions related to the project and it oversaw the dredging work.