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Pallone, Environmentalists & Fishermen Demand General Electric Clean Up Hudson River

Location: Union Beach, NJ


Cite DEP Warning Against Consumption of More Than One Monthly Serving of Winter Flounder from Raritan Bay

Union Beach, NJ --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) was joined today by environmentalists and fishermen to demand General Electric (GE) end years of stall tactics and begin cleaning up contamination it dumped in the Hudson River over three decades.

Today's demand comes after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a consumption advisory warning people not to eat more than one serving per month of winter flounder caught from Raritan Bay. Pallone said the flounder in the Raritan Bay are contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) left by GE in the Hudson River, which flows into Raritan Bay.

Between 1947 and 1977 GE dumped approximately 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River from two of its plants up the river. PCBs have been linked to immune and nervous system disorders and are considered a probably carcinogen. In 1983, nearly 200 miles of the Hudson River was declared a Superfund site and 40 contamination hot spots were identified throughout the river, but the actual cleanup has been delayed many years.

In February 2002, EPA required GE to remove 2.65 million tons of PCB-contaminated mud from above the federal dam at Troy in New York so it would not pass over the dam and flow further down the Hudson River. However, GE is once again delaying the cleanup by saying it needs more time to construct remediation sites, and has moved the cleanup start date from 2005 to 2008.

Pallone said GE has fought the cleanup every step of the way, first by trying to claim they had permission to dump the PCBs, then by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to convince people that dredging the river would do more harm than good.

"New Jersey fishermen and consumers are paying the price for GE's tragic legacy of pollution in the Hudson River," Pallone said. "GE has dragged its feet too long--and the EPA has let them get away with it. It's time for the delays and unneeded discussions to end and for GE to get the cleanup job done once and for all. Our children shouldn't have to grow up hearing that there are still fish consumption advisories because of contamination like this."

Today, Pallone sent his second letter in six months to the EPA urging that the agency exert pressure on GE to finally begin the cleanup. After being assured in a December 21, 2005 letter from EPA Regional Administrator Alan Steinberg that the federal agency would require GE to complete the cleanup, Pallone today urged EPA to no longer allow GE to delay the cleanup. (A COPY OF HIS LETTER FOLLOWS)

The New Jersey congressman was joined at today's press conference, by John Watson, DEP Deputy Commissioner for Natural Resources, Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action, Andrew Willner, Executive Director of the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper, Tom Fote, Legislative Chair of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, along with local elected officials and other representatives from fishing and environmental organizations.

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