HUDSON RIVER FOUNDATION

40 West 20th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10011

Contact: Henry Miller 917-921-8034
Clay Hiles 212-924-8290

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PANEL OF INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS CONCLUDES THAT ACTIVE REMEDIATION IS NECESSARY TO ADDRESS HUDSON RIVER PCB PROBLEM

New York, NY - October 29, 2001 - The Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research, Inc. (HRF) released today the report of an independent panel of scientists and engineers on the key scientific issues underlying the debate about active remediation of PCBs in the Hudson River. The report, PCBs in the Upper Hudson River: The Science Behind the Controversy, concludes that PCBs in sediments in the upper Hudson continue to pose a threat to humans and wildlife, that active remediation is necessary to reduce the risks posed by PCBs in the environment and that suitable dredging technology exists to reduce those risks by removing considerable quantities of PCBs from the Hudson River.

The panel of eight experts, representing a range of specific backgrounds in the study of PCB environmental behavior and risk, was assembled by the Hudson River Foundation to examine the scientific record with regard to key issues in the debate about dredging PCBs from the Upper Hudson River. The experts are:

· Joel E. Baker, Professor of Environmental Chemistry, University of Maryland

· W. Frank Bohlen, Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut

· Richard Bopp, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

· Bruce Brownawell, Associate Professor of Marine Sciences, SUNY - Stony Brook

· Tracy K. Collier, Ecotoxicology Program Manager, National Marine Fisheries Service

· Kevin J. Farley, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, Manhattan College

· W. Rockwell Geyer, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

· Rob Nairn, Principal, Baird & Associates.

Clay Hiles, the Hudson River Foundation’s Executive Director, said, “The public discussion of PCBs in the Hudson has often seemed overwhelmed by media campaigns that can obscure thoughtful scientific debate. The Foundation’s intention in undertaking this effort was to provide clarification of the scientific information pertinent to a policy decision regarding dredging. We believe that it is important both to policy makers and to the public to have this review conducted by a panel distinguished by its independence and expertise. The conclusions presented in this document are those of the scientists and were not directed by HRF.”

As a group, the eight authors of the report critically examined the science underlying the dredging controversy and reached those conclusions that the available science supports. Dr. Joel Baker, the lead author of the report, noted, “The role of science in public policy is to provide clear interpretations of existing information relevant to key issues, and to project possible consequences of societal actions.” Dr. Baker said that the panel found that the weight of the available evidence supports several key findings that led the group to the conclusion that dredging is both necessary and feasible. Those findings include:

· that PCBs are harmful to the residents and environment of the Hudson River;

· that PCBs in the Upper Hudson River, especially in the so-called Thompson Island Pool, are an important continuing source of contamination to the River;

· that there is a real, previously underestimated potential for large PCB releases from Upper Hudson sediments during extreme weather conditions, and

· that the technology exists to dredge, treat, and dispose of the contaminated sediments.

Dr. Baker said that the panel was fully aware that successful dredging will require careful planning and diligent execution. Nevertheless, these experts concluded, “The risks of PCBs are real, the problem will not solve itself, and the proposed remediation (with monitoring) is feasible, appropriate, and prudent.”

A copy of the full report is available online at www.hudsonriver.org.

The Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research, Inc., established 20 years ago, is committed to making science integral to decision-making with regard to the Hudson River and its watershed and to supporting competent stewardship of this extraordinary resource.

The Foundation supports scientific research; communication to expand knowledge about the river among the scientific community, policy makers, and the public at large; initiatives to enhance management of the Hudson ecosystem; and education about the River and physical improvements to the riverfront.

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