On behalf of the Federal Natural Resource Trustees for the Hudson River, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have submitted comments on GE’s Phase 2 Sediment Processing Facility Demobilization and Restoration Plan.
The Federal Trustees comments on the Plan reflect our overarching concern about the protectiveness of the remedy, the extended time it will take our trust resources to recover, as well as the impacts demobilization might have on restoration opportunities under the Hudson River natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). Under federal Superfund law, the General Electric Company (GE) is responsible for both the remediation -- cleanup -- of the PCB contamination, and the restoration of the natural resources harmed by PCBs.
The Federal Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees recommend that EPA postpone action on the demobilization plan until a new Five-Year Review is conducted to ensure that the remedy is protective of human health and the environment. Recent analyses indicate that fish in the Lower Hudson River won’t achieve EPA’s protective goals until decades later than predicted in the 2002 ROD. This is because data collected after the 2002 ROD demonstrate that pre-remedial sediment concentrations in the Upper River were 2-3 times higher and decay rates were greatly overestimated relative to values generated by models used to support remedy selection. These result in 3-5 times higher estimates of post-remedy PCB sediment concentrations and Lower River fish that will remain unacceptably contaminated for decades longer. Upper river fish will also take much longer to achieve protective goals of the ROD.
Background on the Hudson River NRDA: Past and continuing discharges of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have contaminated Hudson River natural resources. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is continuing with cleanup plans, federal and state trustee agencies – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S.Department of the Interior, and New York State – are engaged in a natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). These agencies are responsible for evaluating the injuries associated with hazardous substance contamination to natural resources and determining appropriate actions to restore those resources