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General Electric (Hudson Falls Site) - Hearing Report, February 9, 1998

Hearing Report, February 9, 1998

50 Wolf Road
Albany, New York 12233-1550

In the Matter of

the Proposed Modification of an Order on Consent for the Development and Implementation of
a Remedial Program for an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site, by



- by -

Susan J. DuBois

Administrative Law Judge

February 9, 1998


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the "Department") scheduled a public hearing to provide an opportunity for comment on a proposed modification of the Order on Consent between the Department and the General Electric Company ("GE") for investigation and remediation of GE's Hudson Falls plant. This is Order on Consent No. D5-0002-96-06.

The proposed modification would obligate GE to provide partial support for the conduct of the Long Term Hudson River PCB Analysis Project in the amount of $160,000.00 per year for the next three years.

Notice of the hearing was published in the Glens Falls Post Star on December 6, 1997 and in the Department's Environmental Notice Bulletin on December 10, 1997. Notification about the proposed modification and the hearing was also sent by mail to the Department's current mailing list of persons who are located in the vicinity of the GE Hudson Falls site, or who had expressed interest in the site, or who are interested generally in remediation of polychlorinated biphenyl contamination in the Hudson River.

The hearing took place at 1:00 P.M on January 6, 1998 at the Washington County Office Building in Ft. Edward, before Susan J. DuBois, Administrative Law Judge. At the hearing, GE requested additional time to respond to a statement which the Department Staff presented about results of recent PCB. The deadline for written comments, as published in the hearing notice, was January 20, 1998. The Department Staff and GE agreed to a two week extension of the deadline for comments, if GE were to request this. On January 20, 1998, GE did make such a request. The comment period was extended to February 4, 1998 for comments on the Department's presentation regarding the current conditions of PCB's in the fish. Notice of this extension was published in the Glens Falls Post Star on January 30, 1998 and was mailed to the persons on the mailing list.

The hearing record closed on February 4, 1998. In addition to the present hearing report prepared by the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, the Department Staff intends to prepare a responsiveness summary regarding the hearing statements.


Order on Consent D5-0002-96-06 was issued on July 7, 1997. General Electric has agreed to a modification of this Order on Consent to obligate GE to provide partial support of the conduct of the Long Term Hudson River PCB Analysis Project in the amount of $160,000.00 per year for the next three years (FY 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000).


Charles E. Sullivan, Jr., Esq., NYS DEC, identified what was proposed and stated that copies of the proposed consent order modification were available at the hearing or could be obtained from the Department.

Ronald Sloan, Ph.D., NYS DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife, presented results of analyses of PCB's in several species of fish in the Hudson River, from 1977 to 1996 and at various locations along the river. He concluded that: except in the Thompson Island Pool, PCB concentrations in fish had initially declined after direct discharges stopped in the mid-1970's; that total PCB concentrations remained relatively stable through the 1980's into the 1990's; that concentrations decline with distance downstream, and that PCB concentrations in fish are sensitive to changes in the system. In his presentation at the hearing, Dr. Sloan also stated that PCB concentrations in yearling pumpkinseed had increased in 1996 and that this might portend increases for other species in 1997.

Following the hearing, Dr. Sloan submitted a written statement correcting an error in the data for yearling pumpkinseed. He stated that the error was discovered when GE's consultant had attempted to duplicate the Department's graphs, and that by discussing the results the parties had discovered that during a process of updating DEC's files, some of the editing steps had eliminated the lesser-chlorinated PCB mixtures from most years data. The recalculated data for PCB concentrations in yearling pumpkinseed for 1995 and 1996 showed a statistically significant decrease at the Stillwater Pool, a decrease at Albany which was not statistically significant and an increase at the Thompson Island Pool which was also not statistically significant. Dr. Sloan provided corrected graphs, and concluded that contamination was still too high.

Melvin Schweiger, Hudson River Project Manager, General Electric Company, stated that recent fish data indicate that PCB levels are decreasing and that conditions in the river are improving. Mr. Schweiger stated that GE believes that the Hudson Falls site has been virtually sealed off, and that improved data analysis showed that earlier estimates of PCB quantities leaving the Thompson Island Pool were overstated. He stated that dredging the PCB "hot spots" would not speed up recovery of the river since these PCB's are now covered by sediment, that the PCB's which may currently be accessible to the fish were deposited more recently and that the source of these deposits has now been cut off.

In an written statement following the hearing, Mr. Schweiger discussed the data transcription error mentioned above. He concluded that PCB levels in fish declined rapidly in the late 1970's, that PCB's which were apparently seeping in to the river in the area of the Hudson Falls site slowed the decline in PCB levels in the mid-1980's, and that as a result of remedial activities at Hudson Falls, the PCB levels in fish were declining again at a greater rate that in the 1980's.

Michael Elder, Esq., General Electric Company, stated that GE had agreed to the modification of the Order on Consent as part of GE's cooperation with the DEC and since GE believes that the data which will be collected in the next three years will confirm GE's position about conditions in the river. He also stated that GE and the public would have the opportunity to review the Department's protocols for collecting the data.

John Delmonico, Hudson Falls, stated that PCB's have not been proven to be carcinogenic, and that municipalities and companies other than GE should be required to contribute to the cost of removing PCB from the Hudson River.

Penelope Phillips, Ballston Spa, stated that there was a lot of information on effects of PCB on reproduction, but she agreed with Mr. Delmonico that the public as well as GE should contribute towards the cost of containing and cleaning up PCB's in the environment.

Sharon Ruggi, Hudson Falls, requested that DEC schedule a public meeting for discussion of DEC's and GE's interpretations of the PCB data.

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