CHPE is unnecessary and harmful to the Hudson River

To the Editor:

During November, a group of Hudson River protection groups called The Friends of a Clean Hudson issued a report titled “An Independent Review of EPA’s Upper Hudson River PCB Dredging Remedy” in which they asserted the 2006-2015 cleanup of the upper Hudson River of PCBs conducted by General Electric is “not protective of human health and the environment" and the botched cleanup “will, in effect, continue an environmental injustice legacy on the most vulnerable populations along the river — subsistence fisherman from communities of color and impoverished families who rely on the river for food.”

They wrote, “Without additional actions, the health risks and generational impacts of living, working, and playing within a heavily polluted Superfund site along a nearly 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River will exist for the foreseeable future.”

This Friends of a Clean Hudson is a misnamed group. It includes two well-respected and prominent Hudson River-focused groups (Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper) that a decade ago signed a joint proposal of settlement with the New York State Public Service Commission and the developers of the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission corridor to construct a 340-mile, one-billion-watt (now 1.25 billion) electricity transmission line between the Canadian border and New York City.

CHPE construction has begun near Lake Champlain in the Washington County town of Putnam where one business-owning couple I know is disgusted with the CHPE contractor promises broken as soon as made and damages to the property. Terrestrial sections of CHPE would be constructed through many towns in Washington, Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany, Greene, and Rockland counties.

More than 100 miles of CHPE would be shallowly buried in twin trenches beneath the Hudson, Harlem, and East rivers, and another 10-plus miles buried under cement covers along the bottom of the Hudson River.

CHPE developers assert (pretend) they can dredge two 100-plus mile trenches in the Hudson River and not cause any significant environmental impacts. What they are really hoping is that few will notice the damages; they have skillfully secured the political cover (greenwashing) of two Hudson River protection groups.

The lower Hudson River (south of Albany) is contaminated with a wide variety of poisons from two centuries of industrial activity along the river and in the watershed. Some of the PCBs that General Electric dumped into the Hudson beginning in 1947 lie in the sediment that would be dredged.

Other Hudson river contaminants almost certainly include radioactive materials that leaked from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, the Indian Point nuclear reactors in Westchester County, and hundreds of other non-radioactive poisons in varying quantities and toxicities.

CHPE is unnecessary. New Yorkers can conserve electricity, improve energy efficiencies, and generate appropriately sited and scaled renewable energy here in New York and just off Long Island, employing tens of thousands of New Yorkers without further damaging the Hudson River.

Tom Ellis


Editor’s note: See related story.

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