EPA accepts public comment on review after Hudson River PCB cleanup

July 11, 2024
The EPA is inviting public comment on a review that shows progress and need for more data after Hudson River PCB cleanup.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its third review of the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Upper Hudson River.

The EPA’s review concludes that PCB levels in water and fish are going down overall, but the EPA needs more years of fish data to determine if the cleanup is meeting the expectations of the original cleanup plan.

The EPA will issue an addendum to the current five-year review report as soon as sufficient fish data is available, as early as next year.

The EPA expects to issue the addendum no later than the end of 2027. The report also contains the EPA’s proposal for expanded monitoring and special studies to bolster the data on which to base its conclusions.

The EPA is accepting public comment on the draft report until October 8 to ensure maximum capacity.

The EPA’s draft Five-Year Review is based on sound scientific analysis and an extensive evaluation of the data. The EPA looked at all the water, fish and sediment data collected between 2016-2021, and the preliminary fish data from 2022.

Consistent with conclusions in the Agency’s latest review, the EPA needs a minimum of eight years of fish data after dredging to begin to draw science-based conclusions about the rate of recovery in the fish. The eighth year of fish sampling will be completed this fall. The results of that sampling will be available in 2025.

The EPA selected its two-part cleanup plan for the Upper Hudson River in 2002, which called for dredging to remove approximately 2.7 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from the river bottom, followed by an extended period of natural recovery—a gradual period of improvement in water, fish and sediment the EPA projected would occur over a more than 50-year timeframe.

The primary purpose of the cleanup is to reduce PCB levels in fish to protect people and wildlife that eat fish. The cleanup plan also included reconstructing habitats impacted by the dredging, which included extensive seeding and planting.

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