Hudson PCB Dredging: Questions & Answers
What are PCBs?
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are a class of chemicals consisting of 209 individual compounds. PCBs were widely used for fire prevention and as an insulator in the manufacture of transformers and capacitors because of their ability to withstand exceptionally high temperatures.
How did PCBs get in the Hudson?
Beginning in the 1940s, General Electric used PCBs as an insulating fluid in electrical capacitors manufactured at two plants along the river in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, N.Y., about 50 miles north of Albany. GE discontinued its use of PCBs in 1977. When they were used, PCBs were discharged to the river in the plants’ waste streams, a common practice then. GE held the proper government permits to discharge PCBs to the river at all times required.
Most of the material that was discharged to the Upper Hudson, including PCBs, accumulated behind a dam south of GE’s Fort Edward plant. In 1973, the owner of the dam demolished it and the material that had built up behind it washed downstream, settling in downstream sediment.
When did the EPA select dredging for the Hudson River?
In 1983, at the behest of New York State, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluated river conditions in the Hudson. After an examination of the river’s conditions and a review of existing cleanup options, EPA rejected dredging in 1984. EPA began a re-evaluation of its decision in 1989, leading to its selection of dredging for the river in 2002.
When did GE agree to perform the dredging work?
GE committed to cooperate with EPA on the design, planning and implementation of the Hudson cleanup shortly after EPA selected dredging for the river in 2002. GE designed and performed the first phase of dredging in 2009 and advised EPA on December 23, 2010, that it would conduct the second, final phase of dredging.
Where are the processing, treatment and transportation facilities located?
The facilities are located on a 110-acre parcel of former agricultural land in Fort Edward, N.Y. The property sits between the New York State Champlain Canal and a main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The wharf at the facility is located just south of Lock 8 on the Champlain Canal.
Is local labor used on the project?
More than 280 local contractors, sub-contractors, vendors and suppliers have been engaged to provide services or materials to assist GE on the Hudson River dredging project.
How has GE cleaned up the company’s manufacturing facilities on the Hudson River?
GE has constructed an innovative tunnel system in the bedrock near GE’s former manufacturing plant in Hudson Falls along the banks of the Hudson, north of the dredge areas. The system was built to capture the final drops of PCBs reaching the Hudson and is operating as designed.
I’d like to work on the Hudson project. What should I do?
If you own a business that is interested in working with our contractors, please visit http://www.hudsonworks.net. If you are an individual interested in working on the project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I get more information?
If you would like to speak to one of our community representatives or have questions about Hudson River PCB dredging, contact us at 518-792-4087, toll-free at 1-888-596-3655, or e-mail email@example.com