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You Can Still Enjoy the River During Dredging

2009 June 17
go to EPA's Hudson cleanup site
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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. tommy4usa permalink
    June 17, 2009

    why is this not going on on more rivers in the midwest that are prone to flooding?

  2. Jorge Gerônimo Hipólito permalink
    June 17, 2009

    Friends, I see great effort to revitalize the Hudson River. But one question: in the past had the Hudson River riparian forests, and now? The project is expected to recover these riparian forests? Important, they retain sediment that lowers the cost of recovery. Please, post images of the Hudson River? I would like the city of São Paulo develop similar project in Rio Tietê.

  3. Johnny R. permalink
    June 19, 2009

    Common sense would warn anyone not to take a chance. It’s just not worth the risk of contamination. Wait a month after the cleanup.

  4. Dave King permalink
    June 22, 2009

    Tommy,
    Several rivers are also under way with dredging. The most notable is the Fox river in Wisconsin. The remediation program around the country has focused on land based remediation first to address sources of polution that may end up in our rivers and lakes. We are now working on rivers since the dredging technology has improved to the point that this work can be done effectively and not “making it worse”. River work is very difficult and expensive, but progress is now being made.

  5. Dave King permalink
    June 22, 2009

    Jorge,
    The Hudson does have some riparian forests. We are starting our flood plain investigations which will address these areas and determine the level of contamination and what options are available to remediate the impacts.

  6. Mike permalink
    July 16, 2009

    I like my New York & I like its weather. Hudson river is a very huge river and it is spread around 500 km near New York in USA.

    Mike

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