GE discontinued the use of PCBs nearly 40 years ago and since then has worked with state and federal agencies on comprehensive environmental cleanups in and near the Hudson River.

1942-01-01 16:15:37

1940s - 1970s PCBs used by GE

GE legally uses PCBs at two capacitor plants in Upstate New York. Whenever required, GE held valid permits to discharge PCBs to the Hudson River. The PCBs settled in river sediments behind a dam near Fort Edward.

1973-01-01 00:00:00

1973: Dam Removed in Fort Edward

A dam downstream of GE’s manufacturing plants is demolished by its owner, causing the sediment to wash downstream and settle in quiescent areas of the river. These areas later become known as “PCB hotspots.”

1976-09-01 16:15:37

1976: GE, New York Sign Historic Pact

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.

1977-01-01 00:00:00

1977: Major Clean-ups Begin at Plants

GE discontinues its use of PCBs and works with regulatory agencies to begin a major cleanup program at its Hudson Falls and Fort Edward plants. GE assembles the best scientific talent in the world to expand what is known about PCBs and how they behave in the environment.

1983-09-01 00:00:00

1983: Hudson to National Priorities List

Stymied in two attempts to conduct dredging projects, New York State asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate the Hudson River as a federal Superfund site. EPA becomes the lead regulatory agency evaluating Hudson River environmental conditions.

1984-09-25 00:00:00

1984: EPA Rejects Hudson Dredging

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.

1989-01-01 00:00:00

1989: Reassessing '84 Decision Begins

As required by law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency begins a reassessment of environmental conditions in the Hudson River. The Hudson reassessment will continue for 12 years. Meanwhile, GE continues major clean-up projects, with the approval and oversight of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, at its former manufacturing plants.

1990-09-29 00:00:00

1990: Keeping PCBs Out of the River

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.

1993-01-01 00:00:00

1993: GE Finds, Stops PCB Source

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.

1999-09-01 00:00:00

1999: GE Takes to Air in Cleanup Work

To expand the network of wells that capture PCBs seeping from the bedrock beneath the Hudson Falls plant, GE brought in air support — a large helicopter to lift a 5,000-pound drill rig into place on the dried-out riverbed near a hydroelectric dam. The work at the plant, which is undertaken with the approval and oversight of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, enables the recovery of more than 133 tons of PCBs.


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