EPA Announces Plan to Expand Scope of Hudson River Cleanup Probe

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed plans to coordinate with the State of New York to study roughly 1,800 sediment samples from the Upper Hudson River, collected in 2017 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), according to a press release issued by the Agency. The EPA announced that it will also continue working to complete its study of the Upper Hudson River and perform additional studies of the Lower Hudson River.

Evaluating the Lower Hudson River

The evaluation of the Lower Hudson River will cover the area from Albany to New York City. Conducted in the 1990s, the original assessment implied that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from GE plant sites had shifted downstream into the Lower Hudson River. Since the completion of the study, the EPA and the NYSDEC have continued to collect and study water and fish from the Lower Hudson River, according to the press release.

Fish recovery in part of the river might take longer than expected, so the Agency revealed plans to start conducting supplemental studies. This involves collecting additional sediment samples and other pertinent data that will help researchers grasp the extent of the PCB contamination.

About the Hudson River Cleanup

The Hudson River is a 315-mile stretch of waterway, but 200 miles of it is classified as an EPA Superfund site — one of the largest in the country — according to the Agency. The EPA banned PCBs in 1977, but before that, an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were released into the Hudson River from two General Electric capacitator manufacturing plans in Ford Edward and Hudson Falls.

When the PCBs were discharged into the water, they were deposited and mixed with sediments in multiple locations on the bottom of the river and on some parts of the shoreline in the floodplain, according to the EPA. PCBs are linked to several major health problems in humans — i.e., thyroid disease and immune system disorders — and also have a negative impact on fish and wildlife.

As a result of this pollution, the Hudson River is one of the most closely examined waterways in the country, according to the EPA. Studies over the years have revealed most of the contaminated sediments are located in hot spots in a 40-mile stretch between Fort Edward and the Troy Dam.

Hopefully these cleanup efforts will prove successful, so the Hudson River can be clean and healthy once again for both the humans and wildlife in the area.

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