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Objections to Cleanup of Housatonic PCBs Overruled

Under a consent decree approved in 2000, General Electric agreed to clean up PCBs in the Housatonic River.  (John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons)
Under a consent decree approved in 2000, General Electric agreed to clean up PCBs in the Housatonic River. (John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons)
October 21, 2016

LITCHFIELD, Conn. – The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected General Electric's objections to a plan to remove PCBs from the Housatonic River.

The EPA's $613 million plan calls for sediment to be dredged from the river south of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where GE dumped the PCBs into the river, and trucked to licensed, out-of-state landfills.

Margaret Miner, executive director of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, said proceeding with the cleanup will be good for everyone who lives on the river.

"What is upstream in the river sooner or later comes downstream," she said. "The Massachusetts stretch of the river is very important to us, and I welcome improvements and a cleaner, natural river that we can all enjoy."

GE said it remains committed to cleaning up chemical contamination in the Housatonic, but the company plans to appeal the EPA's decision. PCBs have been classified as carcinogens.

Miner noted that the Housatonic is a major recreational asset in Connecticut, but because of PCB contamination, there are long-standing advisories against eating fish caught in the river.

"It probably would have been easier for EPA to back down," she added. "So, I'm really grateful that they stood their ground, and that they are asking for what the river really needs."

The EPA said a final draft permit with details of the cleanup requirements will be released soon.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT