|In 2009 dredging began in the Upper Hudson River to remove sediments with PCBs. Read more|
With the formidable, 40-mile-long Hudson River dredging project underway, some people may have the idea that the river is off limits for recreation, but this isn’t the case. Granted there are a lot of project vessels on the water, especially around Rogers Island in Fort Edward, but by taking basic precautions for safety, people can use the river in all the ways they have in the past. As a matter of fact, the flurry of activity involves a lot of neat construction equipment, and people can visit the yacht basin in Fort Edward to see the dredging up close and personal.
To scoop the 400,000 tons of sediment (more than 94 acres) targeted this year, GE has mobilized an armada of equipment, including 11 dredges, 17 tugboats, 20 barges, and more than 400 rail cars, as well as skiffs, cranes and other machinery. At peak dredging during July and August, as many as 80 to 90 vessels are expected to be in the river each day. That’s a lot of water traffic congestion in a relatively narrow section of the Upper Hudson, but the river remains navigable by commercial and recreational boaters and open to water skiers, kayakers, swimmers, and anglers.
Boaters traveling in areas where dredging is being performed are being asked to avoid work areas, which are marked by buoys. New York State Canal Corporation regularly posts project information for boaters on their website. EPA and the New York State Department of Health representatives have been telling people recreational activities such as swimming and water skiing are acceptable during dredging, but individuals should try to avoid the immediate areas where dredging is being performed to minimize the potential for exposure. Also, people are being reminded to wash off after going in the water, not just because of PCBs, but because unfiltered river water is known to contain bacteria, viruses and other “bugs” that can make people sick. People are surprised to learn that they can still swim in the river with the project going on, but the main risk of exposure to PCBs at dangerous levels is through eating contaminated fish — and, for now, fish are strictly for catch and release in the Upper Hudson.
About the author: Kristen Skopeck is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is an 11-year Air Force veteran and was stationed in California, Ohio, Texas, Portugal, and New York. After working for the USDA for three years, Kristen joined EPA in 2007 and moved to Glens Falls, NY to be a member of the Hudson River PCB dredging project team. She likes to spend her time reading, writing, watching movies, walking, and meeting new people.