U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
“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.”

EPA Report: Dredging is Working

  • No additional dredging was recommended.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first formal post-dredging analysis of the Hudson River Dredging Project concluded that the project significantly reduced PCB levels and is achieving the environmental improvements EPA envisioned. The agency said the dredging remedy is functioning as intended and will be protective of human health and the environment. No additional dredging in the Upper or Lower Hudson River is recommended. GE’s formal comments on EPA’s Five Year Review report can be read here.


In 2015, GE completed dredging in New York’s Upper Hudson River — an engineering and logistical feat more than a decade in the making that removed twice as many PCBs as originally anticipated, 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. GE has addressed 100 percent of the PCBs targeted by EPA. EPA's report confirms no additional dredging is necessary.

Monitoring results to date 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 73% from pre-dredging levels. EPA expects these declines to continue.

EPA's Five Year Report reviewing the project noted, "Based on all the available data to date, EPA expects that continued natural attenuation following the completion of dredging will achieve the long-term remediation goal for the protection of human health with regard to fish consumption."

For the next several years, GE will perform a long-term monitoring program of fish, sediments and water as part of an ongoing assessment of river conditions.

EPA has projected it will take up to eight more years to collect the data needed to fully evaluate the river’s rate of PCB declines. However, the Superfund law requires EPA to complete a review of the effectiveness of the Hudson River dredging remedy every five years, known as the Five Year Review.

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, also determined the project would achieve EPA’s goals when it was completed.

Sorting out the Competing Claims

Conflicting claims and reports sometimes make it difficult to sort out the facts on the Hudson River. Here’s what we know ...

How was dredging performed?

The dredging of PCBs from a 40-mile stretch of the Upper Hudson River was one of the largest and most logistically complex environmental dredging projects ever undertaken in the United States. The work was performed 24 hours a day, six days a week, for six months a year for six years, with constant oversight from both EPA and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Sediments were removed from the river bottom by mechanical dredges, and loaded onto hopper barges. The barges 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 and large debris was removed. Sediment 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 was treated at an on-site water treatment building.

Following the end of dredging, the facility was decontaminated and decommissioned, with EPA’s approval and oversight.


What's Next

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.