On Sept. 18, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro led state, county, and local officials, business leaders, and Scenic Hudson to call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require a comprehensive PCB cleanup of the Hudson River. Officials gathered at Shadows Marina, located on the City of Poughkeepsie waterfront, to highlight the area’s bustling commercial and residential development which officials argued would be negatively affected if the EPA does not acknowledge in its draft five-year review that the current PCB cleanup is not protective of the environment or the public’s health. Area leaders also called for the EPA to remove its claim that the current cleanup “will be protective” more than five decades in the future, as it is forecasting.
“This is about jobs but also our vitality,” Molinaro said, “because PCBs in the Hudson pose a health threat to people living in riverfront communities. For seventy years, the economic, recreational, cultural and scenic resources—public resources—of the Hudson River have been damaged by this pollution. Federal and state scientists, experts with environmental groups such as Scenic Hudson and others all agree that more cleanup must happen. The EPA must do the right thing for the health and welfare of millions. The agency must find that the cleanup is ‘not protective’ and delete the unsupported claim that the cleanup ‘will be protective.’”
Participants at the event urged the EPA to outline a plan for additional cleanup of the upper Hudson and to direct General Electric to investigate how to characterize and fix the problem in the lower Hudson.
Bonura Hospitality Group Principal Joseph Bonura, Jr. said, “Our company is investing heavily in communities along the Hudson. The river is a major attraction and regional asset, but we believe it can play an even more powerful role in creating jobs and otherwise bettering the lives of people if the EPA makes the cleanup work as it’s required to do. Also, from a personal standpoint, I’m saddened that fish I catch in the river can’t be eaten by our family. That’s just wrong.”
Dutchess County Legislator Margaret Kakish said, “The Hudson River waterfront is the bedrock of the Hudson Valley’s current and future economic vitality. The Hudson River Valley drives the region’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry and is in large part responsible for the ongoing recovery of the real estate market in the lower Hudson since the great recession. Getting the PCB cleanup done properly is crucial because the beauty of the river and the many parks along it contribute significantly to residents’ quality of life and serve as catalysts for attracting visitors and new jobs.”
According to scientists from federal and New York State agencies, as well as an expert retained by the environmental groups Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper, a determination by the EPA that the current Hudson PCB cleanup will protect human health and the environment is not supported by data.
“Connecting people to the visual and natural power of the Hudson River is a core part of the Walkway experience, so having the river at its best is critically important,” said Walkway Over the Hudson Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart. “Boosting the Hudson’s reputation and brand directly enhances the area’s quality of life and the contributions an attraction like the Walkway can continue making to local and regional economies. The EPA needs to make the correct judgment on the cleanup and remove more PCBs. We’re getting closer, but we’re not home yet.”
“The EPA must conclude that the PCB remediation is ‘not protective’ and drop the false assertion that the cleanup ‘will be protective.’ This is the means by which the agency can pursue more cleanup and give our small cities and towns back their Hudson waterfronts as optimized economic engines and places to fully enjoy the glory of nature along this great river,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “A healthy environment and restored Hudson provide a foundation we must have to create jobs and enjoy vibrant communities. The agency has the power to give the Hudson Valley the bright future we and coming generations deserve.”
To learn more online about the PCB cleanup of the Hudson River, visit: ScenicHudson.org.