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EPA endorses major clean-up of NY's Hudson River

By DeadBaby in MLP
Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 04:41:35 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

In a major victory for Mother Nature, EPA head Christie Whitman endorsed a plan today to force GE to dredge the Hudson River in order to clean up years of toxic waste dumping by the company.


As I'm sure some of you know, the Hudson River is one of the most polluted rivers in the United States. Thanks to GE and other cooperate beasts the river is chalk full of various chemicals, most shown to be very carcinogenetic and otherwise harmful to humans and animals alike. GE has spent millions of dollars trying to stop the EPA from forcing them to help clean up the river GE admits to polluting heavily.

In fact, GE has even gone as far as saying a clean-up effort of the river would create MORE pollution since their own carcinogenetic PCB's sitting on the river bed have developed a covering of river sediment. They've also said the river is "cleaning itself" while scientific measurements of the river CLEARY show this just isn't so.

The Hudson River clean-up project has been one of the more important issues to people living in the North Eastern United States, such as myself, but letting GE get away with nothing less than attempted homicide is just going too far and I'm glad the Bush administration didn't sell out to their cooperate masters as they (and just about everyone else in politics) have so many times in the past.

More Coverage:

Hudson River PCBs Site Reassessment Main Page

Upper Hudson River divided over EPA dredging

Hudson River PCB Story

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The EPA:
o Did the right thing 18%
o Created a bigger problem 8%
o Should make GE CEO drink water from the Hudson 74%

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Related Links
o major victory
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o Hudson River PCBs Site Reassessment Main Page
o Upper Hudson River divided over EPA dredging
o Hudson River PCB Story
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EPA endorses major clean-up of NY's Hudson River | 39 comments (23 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
quite one-sided (4.75 / 8) (#1)
by Delirium on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 07:38:33 PM EST

While I tend to support environmentalists on many issues, this particular write-up is far too one-sided to give a clear understanding of the situation. That there are PCBs on the bottom of the Hudson river is not in dispute; what is disputed is whether dredging will make the situation better or worse. The pro-dredging people believe the operation will succeed in removing over 95% of the PCBs on the river bottom, and thus improve the river conditions. The anti-dredging people claim that dredging will remove a less substantion portion of the PCBs, and the PCBs that aren't removed will now be stirred up and mixed with the river water where they will more adversely impact the health of people in the area, rather than sitting relatively harmlessly on the river bottom.

Nor harmless (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by jwb on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 03:40:51 PM EST

The part of that argument that needs some support is the bit about "sitting harmlessly at the bottom". It isn't any more harmless than an undetonated landmine. Sure, it's harmless as long is its undisturbed, but it is still a bomb.

[ Parent ]
well yes (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by Delirium on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 07:04:45 PM EST

I'll grant you that - something should be done about the PCBs on the bottom of the lake. The question is whether the proposed dredging operation will do more harm or good; i.e. will it be like just detonating all the landmines (in which case it'd be better to leave them sitting there), or would it be more like removing them undetonated to be destroyed at a safe location (in which case it'd be a good thing)?

[ Parent ]
nothing going to happen (1.83 / 6) (#5)
by core10k on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 08:08:10 PM EST

GE can literally get away with murder; they own NBC and all the major networks collude together, therefore public opinion will never be against them. Therefore, politically, they're in the clear.

btw (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by core10k on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 08:10:44 PM EST

By the way, did something *actually happen* (thus nullifying my recent post...)? Your first paragraph implies that it has not; 'Endorsing' something basically means 'gosh darn it, I wish something would happen'.

"EPA head Christie Whitman endorsed a plan today to force GE to "



[ Parent ]
yes (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by Delirium on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 08:46:47 PM EST

Apparently the plan is going forward, barring any last-minute surprises. I believe by "endorsed" they meant something along the lines of "gave final approval to," since as the EPA head she has to approve such plans.

[ Parent ]
I have relatives there (3.71 / 7) (#10)
by paxtech on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 09:34:12 PM EST

My grandparents live in a town the Hudson flows through in upstate NY.. They and pretty much everyone else in town are extremely opposed to the dredging. Pretty much every house has a "NO TO DREDGING" sign up in the front yard. Apparently they believe that dredging will stir up the old PCBs, and they don't want the dredging equipment coming in. They also have concerns about where the poisonous sludge will be buried.

People are very resentful of the EPA there now, as they feel the EPA has pushed this dredging down their throats, and has not listened to their concerns. They feel this is being done to clean up the river water further downstream, to the detriment of the people living closest to the dump sites.

I don't really have an opinion either way, I don't know enough about the situation. I did, however, want to make the point that not everyone is in favor of the dredging. This link you posted talks about that, but I don't think it got across in the text as clearly.
--
"Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot

Your grandparents are a bunch of dopes (4.00 / 10) (#19)
by duffbeer703 on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 08:40:08 AM EST

Those "say no to dredging signs" were cheerfully provided by GE Public Relations. They believe that the PCBs seeping into their water table will be "stirred up" because GE spent over $80 million to make them fear the cleanup.

The newspapers weren't very vocal about GE's practices either. After all, the Albany Times Union ran full page GE ads every day during the EPA comment period.

Plenty of the town supervisors and local officials that are so outspoken against dredging also happened to receive considerable political patronage from GE. Alot of parks were built, snowplows bought and money donated by GE PR. Suprising that they would support GE's fud campaign...

Take a look at the NYS GIS project that displays cancer data on a geographical basis. You'll find that in the Catskills and the Hilltowns around Albany there are 'ribbons' of lung and other cancers...

It just so happens that these roads were tarred & oiled back in the 60's and 70's (before rural roads were paved with blacktop or concrete) with PCB-laden waste oil graciously donated by GE.

It's about time those scumbags pay for what they have done to upstate NY.

[ Parent ]
Thanks, ass (2.66 / 3) (#33)
by paxtech on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 07:16:18 PM EST

Is it really necessary to call my grandparents "a bunch of dopes"? If you think they're wrong, that's fine, but that was unnecessary.

If you were them, you'd be against the dredging too. It will cause a lot of short term disruption and pollution. The positive effects are long term, and my grandparents likely won't be around for that.

I, personally, think the dredging is probably a good idea. I can, however, see why some people who live in that area could be against it.
--
"Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot
[ Parent ]

Dredging and Short Term Effects (3.33 / 3) (#30)
by AArthur on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 06:47:22 PM EST

I know the feeling of having a major construction project as a neighboor for a couple of years. NYS DOT put their construction project in the field next to my house, when they were rebuilding State Route 32. There was noise all day long, ugly bright orange trailers, the smell of disel, and more. That was about 7 years ago, and lasted about 3 years while they completely rebuilt about 7 miles of State Route 32.

I didn't like it. I live out in the county, and certainly wasn't happy about it desturbing the peace, putting large amounts of dust in the air, and the alike. But it's history. We have a nice 7 miles of road that is straight, wide and with good visibly, that replaces the twisty, narrow road, that was falling down (and you had drive slower).

So it was worth the cost. And the field that's next door to me that had the construction headquarters? It looks like any other field now, you would never have known that is was a construction site a few years ago. Want to see what the site was? It was in one of the fields towards the middle of this map.

I live in Upstate New York, abit about 20 miles from the Hudson River, and South of Albany. I actually live in Dormansville, NY, if you want, see this road map.

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

We are just as much at fault .. (3.00 / 6) (#13)
by dave920 on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 10:19:36 PM EST

While we can hammer away at GE for their wrong doings, the general public is just as much at fault for polluting the Hudson River. We buy the products of this company, which directly supports what they have been doing. While I do not think every company that does anything wrong should be boycotted (leaving us with about two companies left?), we are responsible as well.

And in the end, the cost of the cleanup will be passed on to the consumers.

Just as much? (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 07:05:40 PM EST

Really? Not even just a little bit less guilty? A tiny bit less?

I think you overstated your point. There is a difference between ignorant support and tacit approval. Perhaps people should be more careful what organizations they engage in trade (I'm with you that far), but buying a light bulb doesn't make one guilty of dumping chemicals in a river. In fact, buying two doesn't either.



[ Parent ]

The poor old Hudson River... (3.50 / 2) (#20)
by minusp on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 09:41:52 AM EST

...will be all but ignored in the eternal arguments over anything and everything that might happen around here. It's pretty obvious that GE would rather not have the precedence set that they should clean up after themselves, (the money involved in this project alone is small, at least for GE) but multiply that times the number of sites that could be cleaned up, and other related damages... now you're talking some coin.

My theory on the matter is that Whitman's down-the-middle approach, while it is probably the safest tack through a very political minefield, is merely a sop to the environmentalists to draw attention away from the approval of SLC's new cement plant. Simple trade.

Remember, regime change begins at home.
haha... Conspiracy Theory (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by AArthur on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 08:58:17 PM EST

I'm about a sick of hearing about the proposed Saint Laurance Cement plant, as dredging the Hudson. They both have too many corprate commericals (SLC advertises heavily on the local cable company -- Mid-Hudson Cable).

I doubt it's a trade, as such a deal would make people in the Northern Catskills and Southern Adirondacks unhappy. And that doesn't do good for votes.

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

Pataki (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by UFOHoaxer on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 11:01:17 PM EST

Although the media didn't play it up, Gov. Pataki has issued some pro-dredging statements. So it's not only Whitman.

[ Parent ]
Not a Simple Decision (4.33 / 3) (#23)
by MrAcheson on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 12:55:20 PM EST

Well in the long term dredging is the best choice. Once the majority of the pollutants are removed the Hudson will get a lot cleaner. You might never know they were there ten years after the cleanup. The problem is the short term, because dredging will make things a lot worse for a lot more people in the short term.

GE is right in several ways. First, considering that the toxins have been leaching into additional ground since they were buried, 95% is pretty optomistic. You're going to have to remove a whole lot of silt to do that. Secondly, unless something is done to divert the water, dredging is going to sharply increase the toxin levels in the river. The dredge will not only expose the polluted area, but more importantly it will be mixing the pollutants with the water by mechanical action. The more silt you remove the worse this problem will be. Expect PCB concentrations in the Hudson to be anywhere from twice to five times what they are now during the dredging operation depending on its size and speed of operation.

Also if you leave these things down there the problem will get superficially better. As more silt is deposited on top of the chemicals their release will be more difficult and therefore slower. Likewise as the concentration of chemicals drops as they diffuse into more soil the release rate will drop. So in a hundred years the problem will be effectively gone, but the chemicals will still be down there only in a larger less concentrated area. GE's line about the river cleaning itself is crap though, the effects will be less pronounced but the chemicals will still be there minus whatever is washed downstream.

All in all, the EPA is making the right choice but I can completely understand the locals not liking it. They are the ones who have to deal with even greater pollutant levels and even higher cancer rates until the cleanup is finished.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


Wow! An EPA action I like! (2.50 / 4) (#24)
by Crashnbur on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 01:52:18 PM EST

The EPA is notorious for stupid acts like placing a fish or a tree in higher regard than thousands of people. For once, though, I can say that I actually support an EPA action. They're not trying to restrict fishing (an activity that all but sustained life in its time), lumberjacking (an activity without which we would be without many things), or any of a number of other things that simply place human life second on the list. Not that humans are any better than the rest of nature, but what about the billions of species of things that are no endangered? Are we to simply kill them instead? "Oh, it's illegal to fish for this one, throw it back. But get all of those that you can!" I hate to break it to the EPA, but the presence or absence of one particular species of fish will not significantly change the order of the world, and it makes no sense to restrict human rights for the sake of trying to save one little creature. Want to save the rainforests? Go for it. Want to clean up some rivers, highways, fields, and everything else? I'm all for that too. Want to tell me to stop fishing in a lake that I've fished in for thirty years just because some endangered fish is in the lake? Go screw yourself.

crash.neotope.com


Okay (3.66 / 3) (#28)
by fluffy grue on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 04:27:12 PM EST

Did you have a point, or were you just spewing vitriol about the EPA?
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Fishing (none / 0) (#38)
by craigtubby on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 07:40:06 AM EST

Want to tell me to stop fishing in a lake that I've fished in for thirty years just because some endangered fish is in the lake?

Ever wondered why that fish is endangered? Maybe because of 30 years of over fishing?

Inconceivable, eh?

[ Parent ]

If you say so. (none / 0) (#39)
by Crashnbur on Sun Sep 09, 2001 at 01:29:24 AM EST

Ever wonder why wars start? Ideological differences. The most deadly and brutal wars are fought for religious reasons. Does this mean that God is a hypocrite?

Inconceivable, eh?

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
Long Term Benfits Outweight Short Term Disadv. (4.66 / 3) (#29)
by AArthur on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 06:32:48 PM EST

In the short term, dredging the Hudson River, is going to make a complete mess of upstate communities, it's going to hurt farmers and residents along the Hudson, and it's going to be devastating to nature (killing fish, birds, and many different animal life). That's a given. That's how any construction project is going to produce.

They can, and have promised the State of New York, that they will work to limit the short term damage, through giving local communties money to make up for lost tourism revenue, building the dewatering plant, on floats in the water, and putting the sediment with PCBs in already open toxic handling landfills (and not building new ones on the Hudson). They have also promised to ensure that farmers get the neccessary water and cash support they may need do to damages caused by dredging.

The good news, that is when the dredging is done, it will be done. The river will heal up after that, nature will return. People will eventually be able to fish it in again without worrying, wells will be able to re-openned, and the signs of dredging will eventually disappear completely from the river. The worry factor will be over. It will be a lot cleaner then today (persistant organic pollutants, like PCBs don't disappear, without removal).

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264

Hudson Dredging: Politics before Reality (none / 0) (#36)
by WombatControl on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 02:41:07 PM EST

The decision by the EPA to dredge the Hudson River was not based on science, fact, or reality. It was solely a political decision by the Bush administration to placate environmental groups, hopefully defusing some of the flack he'll take over ANWR.

Let's take a look at the argument made in this article. First of all, PCBs are not necessarily as carcinogenic as the author implies. According to the American Council on Science and Health, long-term occupational exposure to PCBs do not pose a statistically signifiwater and soil, it's been decreasing steadily after each year.) It's a bad decision.

Also, your anti-corporate rantings are completely inappropriate and childish. Accusing GE of attempted homicide for doing something which was legal when they did it, especially when the supposed health risks were not known (nor are theycant increase to cancer risks. This finding has been confirmed under scientific procedures by other groups. Leaving the PCBs where they are will not have an adverse effect on the health of humans or animals in the region.

GE is correct in stating that the cleanup will dredge up PCBs and artificially increase the PCB concentration in the Hudson River. In the concentrations that dredging would produce, the harms of the PCBs in the Hudson River to wildlife would increase dramatically. It will also harm the wildlife in the Hudson River valley and disrupt the ecosystem far more than the leftover PCBs. (Which *are* cleaning themselves up... check the data on the overall concentration of PCBs in the water and soil, it's been decreasing steadily after each year.) This article gives a more detailed analysis of the facts behind the Hudson River dredging and why it is a political, not a environmental move.

Also, your anti-corporate rantings are completely inappropriate and childish. Accusing GE of attempted homicide for doing something which was legal when they did it, especially when the supposed health risks were not known (nor are they necessarily real) is completely unfair. Before you accuse the President of being a sell-out, you better damn well be able to back it up with fact.



Whose reality? (none / 0) (#37)
by anewc2 on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 04:47:40 PM EST

Just because dumping was legal when it was done doesn't make it right, or harmless. Our legal obligations are not limited to obeying the letter of the law, but also extend to not harming others.

GE is working to prevent any more PCBS from leaching into the river. All well and good, but if they had been so conscientious from the beginning, we wouldn't have this problem. They plan to do nothing at all about the PCBs that are already in the river. I find it way too convenient for them that their preferred method for remediating the river involves zero cost for them, and I don't believe anything they say about the subject.

The river fishermen? They've all found other jobs by now, so who cares about them?

How curious that the dredging opponents are clear about what they are against, but never talk about what they are for. Had GE been interested in solving the problem they created, they could have explored solutions. Instead they spent their money on negative propaganda and buying political support, believing it would be cheaper to obstruct than to clean up after themselves. They deserve to lose.

check the data on the overall concentration of PCBs in the water and soil, it's been decreasing steadily after each year
While the concentration is way down since the dumping stopped, it is not actually decreasing each year.


Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.
[ Parent ]

EPA endorses major clean-up of NY's Hudson River | 39 comments (23 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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