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Audio Feature: Hudson River stories

Jan 07, 2019 9:55 am
Here are some stories from the Hudson River this week. Click here to hear an audio version of this report. (5:46)

The Stevens Institute reports temperatures this week in the Hudson River at Schodack Island were between 34 and 36 degrees.

William J. Kemble reports in The Daily Freeman that Amtrak will hold one of two public meetings Jan. 29 required by the state Department of State as the railroad tries to block public access to the Hudson River at seven locations between Rhinecliff and Stuyvesant. “We haven’t found out where the second one has been scheduled yet,” Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee member Billy Shannon said. The National Railroad Passenger Corp. wants to to stop unauthorized access to maintenance roads in Columbia County and Dutchess County. That proposal is drawing municipal leaders who have been saying their constituents don't want the fences. In Germantown, 125 feet of fence would block vehicles from entering an access road at a boat launch, and another 700 feet would be along tracks at the town park, and at the Cheviot Road there would be 245 feet of fence with a gate blocking the access road to the south. Stuyvesant and Stockport in Columbia County also would get fences under the railroad's proposal. The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Jan. 29 in Kellner Community Activities Center at 50 Palatine Park Road in Germantown, with a Feb. 5 snow date. Read the full story in The Daily Freeman.

The Daily Freeman reports that the Hudson River advocacy group Clearwater wants General Electric to finish its cleanup of PCBs from the upper Hudson River. The Beacon-based organization was agreeing with a 294-page report report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, released Dec. 20, that said GE's dredging did not remove all the PCBs from the river. “While we all can appreciate how much cleaner the Hudson River appears in the last 50 years, thousands of us depend on it for food and are still living with PCB-contaminated fish," Clearwater Executive Director Greg Williams said in a statement. "Part of GE’s responsibility under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 is to make the fish once again safe to eat. This announcement [by the state] gives us hope that we will not have to wait another 50 years.” GE wants a certificate of completion from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but last week New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the EPA to withhold that certificate. "The health of the Hudson River estuary and the vitality of the communities along its banks are at stake, and the EPA must not let GE off the hook for a job that is not done," Cuomo said. GE claims the state's data shows 99.8 percent of samples with PCB concentrations below the EPA's threshold for requiring dredging. No one disputes that GE dumped polychlorinated biphenyls, a carcinogenic, into the Hudson River from two of its plants from the 1940s until the substance was banned by the federal government in 1977. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.

Kathleen Moore reports in the Post-Star that reports about the ongoing contamination of Hudson River from PCBs, "has dismayed both those who opposed dredging and those who championed it as the way to clean the river." The PCB contamination levels in fish are “essentially the same” as they were before General Electric dredged some of the PCBs out of the river recently, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Althea Mullarkey, a public policy analyst with Scenic Hudson, said, “I never want to say dredging was a failure, because when you dredge according to what the problem is, it works.... Are we going to meet the goals of the Record of Decision? No.” A spokesperson for General Electric was more optimistic, as the company clearly does not want to do any more dredging. “The Hudson River dredging project is working and is delivering the environmental benefits that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and New York state sought and predicted. The data demonstrate this conclusively,” GE spokesperson Mark Behan said.
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