New York State Suing EPA Over Hudson PCBs

From the foothills of the Adirondacks to New York Harbor, Hudson River fish still are contaminated with PCBs. Photo: rabbit75_fot/Adobe Stock.

ALBANY, N.Y. – Environmentalists are calling the state of New York’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency a “move toward environmental justice.” 

The lawsuit filed Wednesday says the EPA broke the law by issuing General Electric Company a certificate of completion for its removal of PCBs from the Hudson River. 

According to Greg Williams, executive director of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, simply meeting the target for tons of sediment removed hasn’t solved the problem.

“As much as we appreciate GE completing that plan, that is one of a series of requirements,” he points out. “The most important requirement is that it be protective of human health, which it is not.”

The EPA issued the certificate in April, saying the cleanup was complete, but PCB levels in Hudson River fish remain three times higher than the target level set in 2002.

Williams says PCBs, which GE dumped in the Hudson years ago, are linked to cancer in humans.

“So, the entire commercial fishing industry and subsistence fishermen are still unable to safely eat those fish,” he points out.

Thousands of New Yorkers, especially in low-income, immigrant and minority communities, supplement their diets with fish caught in the Hudson.

The EPA’s own evaluation found the cleanup left about 13 more tons of PCBs in the upper river than anticipated. 

Williams says the agency needs to reformulate the cleanup plan.

“Having found that the existing plan was not protective of human health, they would have to update the plan so that it would, as best they could estimate, be protective of human health,” he states.

The lawsuit asks the federal district court to vacate the EPA’s certificate of completion.

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