Confirmed victory

GE Should Cleanup Its Mess in the Hudson River

This petition made change with 325 supporters!

Update: Victory! EPA did not listen to GE's delay tactics and put forth a plan to compete the cleanup starting next year.  GE had no choice but to agree, since EPA promised to "use all the legal resources" at their disposal to compel the company to participate. Thanks for signing! Read more here.

GE formally agreed to the plan and the goal is to start dredging again in late Spring. Environmentalists are gratified, but also have major concerns that the plan allows GE to leave too much of the PCBs in place, underneath a sediment cap that is vulnerable to coming loose.

From about 1947 to 1977, GE spent 30 years dumping 1.3 million pounds of toxic chemicals called PCBs in New York's iconic Hudson River.

In 2009, after trying and failing to absolve itself of responsibility for many decades, GE finally launched Phase 1 of the cleanup, which involves dredigng the river free of toxic sediment.

Last Fall they completed Phase 1, and the state declared it a success: the contaminated sediment was removed and few PCBs were stirred up into the water. Now, the state environmental commissioner wants to make sure GE finsihes the job.

GE isn't so sure, of course. Even though it committed to finish the cleanup, it now wants an extra year to look at the Phase 1 data and "decide" whether it will proceed with Phase 2.  GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt recently met with EPA privately on the matter.

This week, a number of environmental groups have joined to make sure EPA gets the message that GE must finish the cleanup on schedule. "Working together with ordinary citizens and multiple local and state agencies, we insisted that GE be held accountable for threatening the health of generations of Hudson Valley residents, damaging native river species and turning one of our state’s most valuable natural resources into the country’s largest toxic waste site," they write, in a letter. Editorial boards of many New York papers, including the New York Times and the Poughkeepsie Journal, agree.

For years, New Yorkers have been banned from commercial or recreational fishing in many areas along a 200-mile stretch of contaminated riverbed. PCBs are a big health risk because they first accumulate in sediments, then move up the food chain into fish. EPA calls them probable human carcinogens, and they also aren't so wonderful for fish and wildlife either.

If GE were allowed to delay this cleanup, this would be a depressing reversal of progress on the Hudson. Will you join these groups by signing this petition to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson asking her to refuse to let GE off the hook?

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