Phase 1 of Hudson River Dredging Nears Completion

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In 2009 dredging began in the Upper Hudson River to remove sediments with PCBs. Read more.

The last five months of my life have probably been some of the busiest I’ve ever experienced. Since the project began May 15, I’ve watched more than 240,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment being removed from the Upper Hudson River in the area of Fort Edward, NY, and there was never a dull moment. The actual dredging was kind of hypnotic, but all of the contentious public meetings, media attention, outreach events, and requests for information and tours kept me on my toes.

Now it is early October, and I’m starting to catch my breath again. The dredging is winding down and most of the project vessels will be out of the water by mid-November. We can only dredge from May to November each year because the project’s dewatering facility is located on the Champlain Canal which only operates during those months.

Just to recap how we did, dredging crews worked in 10 of 18 designated areas around Roger’s Island and near Griffen Island in the Upper Hudson. While crews did not dredge in eight areas they originally planned to complete, they removed as much contaminated sediment in the 10 areas they worked in as they expected to remove from all 18 areas. Dredge engineers encountered approximately 100,000 cubic yards of additional, contaminated logging debris attributable to the historical Adirondack logging trade and a timber dam that was removed in the early 1970s. Dredging this additional debris, and finding contamination at levels much deeper than anticipated, kept the crews from working in the other eight areas. These eight areas will be the starting point for dredging in phase two of the project.

During the winter of 2009, a peer review panel of independent dredging experts will convene to look at all of the production and monitoring data generated during Phase 1. This group will make recommendations to EPA and General Electric about changes that can be incorporated for phase two, so the project will be even more efficient and effective. The project review, completion of the final design for phase two, a public comment period, as well as any new construction that might be necessary at the dewatering facility, will take place in 2010. Therefore, the next opportunity to resume dredging will be May of 2011.

I’m looking forward to a slower pace of life this winter and next year, but I know the review process and the subsequent EPA and General Electric coordination will require a lot of public interaction and outreach. Happily, I’ll also look for opportunities to discuss the substantial progress we made during this first phase of this epic journey to clean up the Hudson River.

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.