As Housatonic River Cleanup Plan Finalized, Plenty Of Gripes On All Sides

Oct 30, 2016

A stretch of the Housatonic River that, under an EPA proposal, would be dredged to remove PCBs.
Credit Nancy Eve Cohen / WFCR

Some Housatonic River advocates say they wish the EPA’s cleanup plan called for digging up more PCBs. PCBs are a man-made toxin, which was manufactured in the 1920s. This comes as the agency released its final plan to remove toxins from the river which runs through western Massachusetts and Connecticut. The $613 million plan calls for removing and capping PCBs from the river bottom and floodplain.

A former General Electric factory in Pittsfield released PCBs into the river before Congress banned them in the 1970s because of their toxicity. GE is responsible for cleaning up the river and paying for it.

Dennis Regan of the Housatonic Valley Association said more PCBs should be dug up, rather than capped.

“Every year, you have your spring floods and you have your hundred-year floods. And it churns up the soil,” said Regan. “We have a lot of erosion on the banks and on the bottom of the water. This cover, this cap, I would think [that] over the test of time wouldn’t hold up.”

General Electric also has problems with the plan and has 30 days to appeal it. The company issued a statement saying it looks forward to resolving the plan’s “shortcomings.”