From May 9 through Nov. 16, GE's crews perform dredging in the Upper Hudson River. Crews work 24 hours a day, six days a week. More than 663,000 cubic yards of sediment are removed during the season, far surpassing EPA's annual target of 350,000 cubic yards.
GE signs a landmark agreement in which GE and New York State each agree to contribute $3 million to a fund for research and cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River. GE agrees to perform an additional $1 million in environmental research, and New York State accepts full responsibility for cleaning up the river.
EPA rejects dredging as a cleanup strategy for the Hudson, saying it “could be environmentally devastating to the river ecosystem and cannot be considered to adequately protect the environment.” The decision recommends capping of shoreline areas upstream of the former Fort Edward dam that were exposed when the water level dropped after the demolition of the dam.
In GE’s first major clean-up project in the river itself, GE caps 60 acres along the Upper Hudson shoreline near Fort Edward to prevent PCBs from reaching the river. These deposits are called “remnants” because they remained after the dam at Fort Edward was demolished.
After identifying a sudden and surprising increase in PCB levels in water, GE traces the increased levels to a dilapidated, abandoned, 19th-century paper mill located on the river, about 60 feet below the bank on which GE’s Hudson Falls plant is located. Despite enormous physical obstacles, including the deterioration of the mill, high water, winter storms and the immediate proximity of raging falls, GE converts the mill, which was never owned by GE, into a system of wells to recover PCBs before they reach the river.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues a Record of Decision on February 1, calling for dredging 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-containing sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the Hudson north of Albany.
Two months after EPA selects dredging in the Upper Hudson, GE proposes to EPA a comprehensive framework for implementing the project. GE’s proposal, known as a “Good Faith Offer,” addresses all aspects of EPA’s dredging decision, including a comprehensive sediment sampling program and development of the project’s engineering design. In addition, GE agrees to reimburse past costs incurred by EPA in carrying out its 12-year assessment of the Hudson River project and to reimburse EPA’s future oversight costs for the project.
In April, work begins on 110 acres of vacant farmland identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for support facilities for the Hudson River Dredging Project. Ultimately, the site will include a barge terminal where sediments will be delivered; several huge presses that will dewater the sediments; a plant to remove PCBs from water; and large railroad facilities for the rail cars that will transport the dewatered sediment to final disposal out of state.
In September, GE completes building state-of-the-science tunnels equipped with collection devices beneath the Hudson River designed to capture the final drops of PCBs reaching the Hudson. The tunnels, about the size of a railroad car, are outfitted with equipment to drain PCBs out of the bedrock above, collect the PCBs and pump them to a water treatment facility on the property.
GE conducts the first phase of the environmental dredging project EPA selected for the Upper Hudson. GE’s contractors worked 24 hours a day, six days a week, for six months, to complete the work. Ultimately, 288,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed, surpassing EPA’s target for sediment removal.