Two Counties Taking Legal Action Against EPA in Hudson Cleanup Fight

Epa Hudson cleanup

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan speaking at a press conference Tuesday about the Hudson River cleanup.

In Brief­-  Ulster County is taking legal action against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contending the Hudson River has not been sufficiently cleaned of carcinogens spewed from old General Electric (GE) plants.

The county joins Dutchess County in supporting a lawsuit brought by New York against the EPA after the federal agency issued a certificate of completion to GE for its clean-up efforts.

GE dumped 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), now proven to be a carcinogen, into the Hudson River from two of its plants from 1947 to the late 1970s, when the chemical was banned.

Two hundred miles of the Hudson River, including the river’s entire length through the Hudson Valley, was declared an EPA Superfund site in 1983, but GE did not begin dredging the river’s bottom until 2009, following decades of court battles.

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a Democrat, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican, announced Ulster County would be supporting the lawsuit at a joint press conference Tuesday.

The two counties are not plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but they will petition the court for permission to submit a “amicus curiae brief,” providing a written argument in support of the lawsuit against the EPA, according to the Ulster County Executive’s Office.

The county executives were joined at the conference by leaders from the regional environmental groups Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, who decried the EPA’s certification of completion to GE earlier this year, contending the company had not achieved the reductions agreed to in its 2006 consent decree.

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