“The Hudson River PCB Superfund dredging project has been a success... This project is the most extensive dredging project undertaken in the nation, and its success is a historic achievement for the recovery of the Hudson River. It was also a success for the local economy — providing about 500 jobs at its peak.”


EPA Calls Work ‘Historic Achievement’

GE completed dredging in New York’s Upper Hudson River — an engineering and logistical feat more than a decade in the making and an accomplishment the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called “a historic achievement”.

In six construction seasons (2009 and 2011-2015), GE removed 310,000 pounds of PCBs from the Upper Hudson River in what was one of the largest and most successful environmental dredging projects ever undertaken in the U.S. All the PCBs targeted by EPA have been removed.

Early monitoring results are encouraging. Data collected and analyzed in 2016 show PCB levels in water have declined from pre-dredging levels at every location where samples were collected. In the Upper Hudson north of Albany, PCB levels in water declined as much as 60% from pre-dredging levels. EPA expects these declines to continue.

Information about PCB levels in water is important because PCB levels in water and sediment influence PCB levels in fish. EPA selected the environmental dredging project to reduce PCB levels in fish.

For the next several years, GE will perform a long-term monitoring program of fish, sediments and water to ensure these downward trends continue as EPA expects. PCB levels in fish and sediments collected in 2016 are being analyzed now. Additional fish, water and sediment samples will be collected in the years to come.

EPA has stated it will take five to eight additional years to collect the data needed to fully evaluate the river’s rate of recovery. However, the Superfund law requires EPA to complete a review of the effectiveness of the Hudson River dredging remedy in 2017.

This is the second, five-year review to be conducted of the Hudson project. The first review, conducted by EPA in 2012 as dredging was underway, determined the project would achieve EPA’s goals when it was completed.

EPA is expected to issue its second, five-year review report in April 2017. The report will incorporate the most up-to-date data collected on the Hudson. GE is confident this latest assessment will again conclude that the cleanup GE performed in the river was the right remedy, that the project will achieve EPA’s environmental goals, and that the appropriate next step is the multi-year collection of sediment, fish and water samples to confirm the river’s long-term recovery.

How was dredging performed?

Sediments were removed from the river bottom by mechanical dredges stationed on flat deck barges. The sediments were loaded onto hopper barges that, when filled, were pushed by tugboats to a processing, treatment and transportation facility GE constructed for the project on the Champlain Canal one mile upstream from the Hudson River.

At the facility, free water was pumped from the barges, large debris removed and sediments lifted from the barges where it moved through size separation equipment to separate out debris, gravel, rocks and sand. Water was extracted from the finer sediment in a 41,000-square-foot sediment dewatering building. The resulting cake-like substance was loaded onto railcars for disposal at permitted waste disposal facilities in Texas, Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio and Michigan.

Water removed during the dewatering process was treated inside an on-site water treatment building. Now that dredging activities have been completed, the facility is being decontaminated and decommissioned, with EPA’s approval and oversight.

Next Steps

Although dredging has been completed, GE’s work on the Hudson will continue. For the foreseeable future, GE will collect samples of fish, water and sediment from a 150-mile stretch of the river. These data will be used by EPA and others to assess the effectiveness of the dredging project. In addition, GE will monitor the habitat replacement performed along the river bottom to ensure it is re-establishing itself as EPA forecast.

In conjunction with EPA, GE will continue performing a comprehensive evaluation of the Hudson shoreline to determine whether PCBs are present and how best to address them.

GE will continue the cleanups of its Hudson Falls and Fort Edward plant sites — cleanups that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says have eliminated both sites as significant sources of PCBs to the river.

If you have additional questions about GE’s work in the Hudson River, email info@hudsondredging.com or contact us at 518-792-4087 or toll-free at 1-888-596-3655.