Friends of the Richelieu. A river. A passion.

"Tout cedit pays est fort uny, remply de forests, vignes & noyers. Aucuns Chrestiens n'estoient encores parvenus jusques en cedit lieu, que nous, qui eusmes assez de peine à monter le riviere à la rame. " Samuel de Champlain

"All this region is very level and full of forests, vines and butternut trees. No Christian has ever visited this land and we had all the misery of the world trying to paddle the river upstream." Samuel de Champlain

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Le fleuve Hudson ne se nettoyera pas tout seul

Photo: Adkland

Le cour d'eau siamois du Richelieu, le Hudson, pris au nombril par le lac Champlain, se fait nettoyer ces temps-ci. La compagnie GE avait déversé ses eaux usées contaminées avec des BPC pendant des années dans le fleuve, et avait engagé des ouvriers pour nettoyer les sédiments chargés de BPC. Pourtant, çà fait presque 35 ans déjà que le gouvernement a banni l'usage des BPC, utilisé surtout comme réfrigérant et isolant dans les transformateurs et équipements industriels, et avec raison, parce que la science avait prouvé les effets néfastes sur la faune.

Mais la pollution a descendu le courant, et contamine l'eau potable, bien qu'à des niveaux acceptables pour la consommation humaine.

Bien que le dragage, ou le curage du fond d'une rivière ne doit pas se faire sans grincements de dents, l'EPA est convaincue que c'est mieux que d'enterrer les sédiments contaminés dans le fond du fleuve. Le dragage fait jusqu'à date a brassé plus de sédiments contaminés que prévus, propageant la contamination en aval, l'EPA continue de croire que le dragage est la meilleure solution, plaidant qu'il y a plus de sédiments que prévu, et que le nettoyage devra se faire sur une plus grande surface. On parle maintenant de faire 45 milles au nord d'Albany, et que le coût s'élèvera à plusieurs milliers de dollars.

Peut importe les conclusions des travaux faits jusqu'à date, l'EPA se dit engagée à continuer le nettoyage, avec ou sans la coopération de GE.
"Hudson River won't clean itself

Amid its massive studies, technical jargon and propensity to take an interminably long time making decisions, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has offered a refreshing moment of clarity. And it came in connection with perhaps the most important cleanup it has ever overseen: General Electric's removal of miles of PCB contamination in the Hudson River. Crews hired by GE have finished a first, modest phase of the cleanup, and the company and the EPA are now taking a break to evaluate the results before a much larger-scale cleanup begins.

To that end, EPA project director Dave King adds: "Regardless of the decision GE makes about moving forward, EPA is committed to seeing this project is completed," as reported in the Times Union of Albany.This is precisely what the public needs to hear from the EPA, which can't afford to send mixed messages about a project so important to the river. Remarkably, it's been almost 35 years — more than one-third of a century — since the government finally banned GE and other companies from using polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, as coolants and insulating fluid for transformers and other equipment. That's because PCBs were polluting the environment, and studies have shown they are harmful to the survival and growth of fish, birds and mammals.

Before the ban, GE released the contamination into the Hudson River from manufacturing plants at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward. These plants discharged wastewater containing PCBs, which is why parts of the river north of Albany have the most pollution.

Nevertheless, PCBs have made their way downstream. Each year, they have been pouring over the Troy dam, and traces have been found in drinking water as far south as Poughkeepsie, though at levels well within safety standards.EPA studies have shown dredging is a better cleanup option than burying the sediments or using caps to stop their spread. Still, the first phase didn't go exactly as planned. While GE says the dredging stirred up too much PCBs downriver and is questioning the effectiveness of this approach, the EPA counters that the initial phase has shown there are many more PCBs in the river than predicted, bolstering the argument for broader dredging.

Under the federal Superfund law, the EPA has the authority — not to mention the obligation — to make sure this work gets done and will have to assert that authority in court if necessary. That broader cleanup is expected to expand along a 45-mile stretch of river north of Albany and could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The two sides have issued extensive reports on the initial phase and what to do next, and — as has been the case before during this saga — a panel of independent experts will review them and is expected to make recommendations by June. More details and insights will emerge about exactly how to proceed. But the EPA's stated commitment to go forward with a broader cleanup must not waver."

Excerpts from opinion piece published here:

1 comment:

  1. La semaine dernière, la ville de Halfmoon a dû changer sa source d'eau potable: l'eau de la rivière Hudson comptait 2,000 ppt de BPC. La limite permise de l'EPA pour l'eau potable est 500 ppt.

    High PCB levels lead Halfmoon to switch water source. PCB levels in the Hudson River near Thompson Island Dam were recorded at more than 2,000 parts per trillion last week -- far above the Environmental Protection Agency's 500 ppt drinking water standard -- causing the town of Halfmoon to switch its water source. Saratoga Saratogian, New York. 28 March 2010.