Dredging The Hudson: How We Got Here
In 2002, EPA issued a Record of Decision that called for, among other things, the removal of sediment containing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from the river. (What are PCBs?) GE used PCBs at its Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, N.Y., plants, and legally discharged them to the river.
Immediately following EPA’s decision, GE committed to cooperate with EPA on the Hudson River PCB cleanup. GE entered into a number of agreements with EPA that set forth a process for determining which specific areas would be dredged, how the design of the project would be completed, and how dredging the Hudson River would be performed.
To determine what specific areas would be dredged, GE conducted an extensive sediment sampling program during which more than 60,000 samples of river bottom were collected and analyzed. The multi-year program was the largest sediment sampling effort ever performed.
GE then selected a team of experts to provide engineering services for dredging, railroad transport, water treatment and sediment processing. Months of research and detailed analyses followed, during which key technical decisions were made, such as the equipment to be used; the method for transporting dredged sediment for processing; what processing and treatment activities would be undertaken at the processing facility; and how processed material would be transported for final disposal.
At the same time, EPA began to identify and evaluate potential locations for the support facilities. Ultimately, EPA settled on 110 acres of vacant farmland in Fort Edward, N.Y., 50 miles north of Albany, for a barge unloading facility, sediment dewatering and treatment facilities and temporary staging areas. A rail yard was needed to support transportation of the sediment to a disposal facility. And a water treatment plant had to be constructed to treat the water removed from the sediment during processing as well as precipitation falling on the property.
With EPA approval, GE began construction of these facilities in 2007 and completed them in late 2008. Dredging to remove PCBs began on May 15, 2009, and continued for six months.
Following the completion of the first year of dredging, GE, EPA and a panel of independent dredging experts evaluated the work. Many lessons were learned and the project was refined going forward. GE informed EPA on December 23, 2010, that it would conduct the second, larger phase of the project.
This final phase of dredging began in 2011 and, according to EPA, will likely continue for another three to five years.
If you have additional questions about the Hudson River PCB cleanup or dredging in the Hudson River, email email@example.com or contact us at 518-792-4087, or toll-free at 1-888-596-3655.