Despite freeze, report said to be on schedule
By Brian PJ Cronin
The EPA and the Hudson River may both be frozen, but the agency’s work on the Hudson continues.
The day after news broke that the Trump administration had enacted a freeze on Environmental Protection Agency grants, programs and work orders, and that the agency would be restricted from contact with the public and press, an EPA official told The Current that it is continuing work on its much-anticipated report determining the effectiveness of General Electric’s Superfund cleanup of the Hudson River.
“The temporary pause on some EPA contracts and grants is not expected to apply to Superfund cleanup efforts that are underway,” said David Kluesner, the chief of public outreach for the agency’s Region 2 office in Manhattan. “We expect that the five-year remedy review will remain on schedule for completion this spring.”
As The Current reported on Jan. 20 the review report is seen by environmental groups as the last line of defense for the river. If the EPA’s report determines that GE’s six-year dredging effort to remove harmful pollutants it dumped into the Hudson over a 20-year period was not successful, the agency has the legal authority to force the company to resume its efforts.
GE has told the EPA that its work on the river is done and has requested a Certificate of Completion months before the agency’s report is expected to be completed.
Environmental groups and the New York State Department of Conservation both say the levels of PCBs in the river are still too high to stop the cleanup.
Despite communications restrictions placed on the EPA by the new administration, including a ban on press releases and social media postings, the agency “fully intends to continue to provide information to the public,” Kluesner said.