EPA, General Elecctric Reach draft agreement on next steps in Hudson River cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken another important step toward cleaning up PCB-contaminated sediment in the Hudson River by reaching a draft agreement with the General Electric Company (GE) to perform the project design work required before dredging can begin.

May 30th, 2003

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken another important step toward cleaning up PCB-contaminated sediment in the Hudson River by reaching a draft agreement with the General Electric Company (GE) to perform the project design work required before dredging can begin. Under the agreement, embodied in a draft Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), GE will develop detailed approaches to removing sediment from the river bottom, transporting and disposing of the material, and replacing the habitat in dredged areas. The company is also agreeing to pay up to $28 million as a partial reimbursement of EPA's past and future costs associated with the dredging project.

"GE's agreement to move forward with the design work is another positive sign that we are on the path toward a healthy Hudson River," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "EPA is optimistic that, working together with GE, we will complete work on this historic project safely and on schedule."

The tentative agreement released today incorporates draft work plans for the design of the dredging work, baseline monitoring, a cultural and archaeological resources assessment and a habitat delineation and assessment program. The work plans are being circulated for public review and input. The agreement remains in draft to give the public an opportunity to review the detailed work plans and for EPA to consider public input on them.

Under the agreement, GE is responsible for designing a dredging project that will be conducted over a six-year period, in two phases, consistent with the February 2002 Record of Decision (ROD) for the project and the engineering performance standards developed by EPA to ensure that the dredging is done safely and effectively. The company will perform key activities needed to complete the design of the Upper Hudson dredging project, including:

-- Evaluating sediment sampling data resulting from the collection and analysis of approximately 30,000 sediment samples from the Upper Hudson. This sampling work, which began in the fall, is being performed under a separate AOC signed in July 2002.

-- Developing engineering and design specifications to support EPA's selection of sites for sediment processing/transfer facilities, and designing these facilities.

-- Determining locations for the disposal of the dredged and dewatered sediments.

-- Developing engineering and other information needed to select which areas of sediment will be removed during phase 1 and phase 2 of the dredging project.

-- Developing all remedial design documents.

-- Designing an effective monitoring program that meets the objectives of the engineering performance standards developed by EPA.

EPA will retain direct responsibility for three aspects of the design project: the siting of sediment processing/transfer facilities, the development and peer review of engineering performance standards and the creation and implementation of a community involvement plan for the project.

The design work is expected to take three years to complete and will be performed and paid for by GE with oversight by EPA and New York State. EPA anticipates that the design work will be phased so that dredging can begin in spring 2006.

Under the agreement, GE will pay EPA $15 million in partial reimbursement of the Agency's past costs for the site. In addition, the company will reimburse the Agency up to $13 million in costs associated with EPA's performance of work for which it has lead responsibility, as well as costs that will be incurred in the oversight of GE's design work.

Last summer, GE paid the Agency $5 million for past costs under the July 2002 Sediment Sampling AOC. Those funds, plus the $15 million for past costs included in the draft agreement announced today, bring the company's total reimbursement for past costs to $20 million -- a down payment toward the more than $40 million incurred by the Agency on the site. A

dditional negotiations with GE will begin soon after the agreement is signed; it will address the company's performance of the actual dredging work and the reimbursement of the remainder of EPA's past and future costs.

The Agency is committed to public participation throughout the project through an open process that keeps the public informed and encourages public input. It has developed a variety of tools, detailed in its proposed Community Involvement Plan, to keep the public fully informed about design work, field activities on and around the river, and other aspects of the cleanup.

The draft design work plan and the work plans have been released for public review and input. The three week public review period begins on May 28 and ends on June 18. The draft AOC is being released to the public for informational purposes only.

The draft work plans and fact sheets on each document are available at information repositories located in Glens Falls, Ft. Edward (Hudson River Field Office), Saratoga Springs, Albany, Poughkeepsie, and New York City. Electronic versions can be found on the EPA project Web site at www.epa.gov/hudson. Copies are also available in print and on CD-ROM, by calling the Hudson River Field Office. Please see the fact sheet for details on public information sessions on these documents.

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