DEC Demands EPA Require Additional Sampling for Hudson River PCB Contamination

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DEC Demands EPA Require Additional Sampling for Hudson River PCB Contamination

DEC calling on EPA to increase sampling by over 1400 samples to pinpoint location of large amounts of high levels of PCBs still in the River

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today renewed its call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require additional sediment sampling for Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the upper Hudson River. In a letter to EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck today (PDF, 266 KB), DEC identified the need to expand the analysis of sediments by over 1400 samples in the Upper Hudson River, both in areas that were dredged, as well as those that were not, in order to determine the effectiveness of the dredging. The expanded sampling is critical to gauge whether the project will meet remediation goals identified in the Record of Decision (ROD), and the sampling must be undertaken before EPA issues its five-year review in early 2017.

EPA recently shared the limited scope of its required sampling with representatives of General Electric (GE) and DEC, despite DEC's repeated requests for additional sampling to ensure the remediation is protective of New Yorkers and the environment, prompting today's letter to EPA. DEC is demanding a response from EPA within 10 days. DEC will step in to undertake the analysis in the event that EPA fails to do so.

"The clock is ticking. EPA's work is not done and its unwillingness to require GE to perform adequate sediment sampling undermines the five-year review process underway," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "That is why New York State is demanding that EPA undertake more comprehensive and scientific sampling no later than the spring of 2017. If EPA fails to act, DEC is ready to step in. And until such sampling occurs, the EPA must not deem the remediation project complete."

If remediation objectives will not be achieved in the timeframes specified, the State is calling on EPA to identify specific areas of the Upper Hudson River that may require further remediation.

Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the National Contingency Plan (NCP), EPA is required to monitor effectiveness of the remedy to affirm that it is meeting the goals set by ROD. In March, EPA committed to perform a five-year review of the remedy, which it expects to issue in the spring of 2017.

However, the State believes that unacceptably high levels of contamination remain in river sediment, and DEC has called on EPA to reexamine its cleanup to ensure that the cleanup effectively protects public health and the environment over the long term.

EPA currently plans to collect only 375 samples, or fewer than 10 samples for every mile of river. DEC has determined that EPA's sampling plans are inadequate and would not provide enough data to assess the efficacy of the remediation. At least 1,800 samples are needed to have the statistical power to draw timely, science-based conclusions from the sampling results.