EPA Proposes Hudson River Cleanup

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

A United States government agency plans to order the General Electric Company to remove dangerous chemicals from the Hudson River in New York State. Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency say the plan involves removing polychlorinated biphenyls from the mud under the river. The chemicals, known as P-C-B's, are believed to cause cancer. The plan calls for removing forty-five thousand kilograms of P-C-B's from one area of the Hudson River within five years.

The General Electric Company would be required to pay the cost of almost five-hundred-million dollars. The company released the chemicals into the Hudson. But company officials say cleaning up the river would do more harm than good. They say they will continue efforts to fight the plan.

The company used P-C-B's to make electrical equipment until the United States government banned them in Nineteen-Seventy-Seven. Until then, General Electric released more than four-hundred-thousand kilograms of the chemicals into the river over a thirty-year period. General Electric factories released the P-C-B's along an area of the upper Hudson in northern New York State. A three-hundred kilometer area of the river down to New York City was polluted. The P-C-B's affected fish and settled at the bottom of the river.

Recent E-P-A studies found that P-C-B's are likely to cause cancer. They say the chemicals threaten wildlife and people who eat fish from the Hudson. Officials say the risk of cancer and other health problems will continue for at least forty years unless the river is cleaned up.

General Electric, however, has released its own studies. It says the situation is improving. A report released last year suggested that P-C-B levels in fish continue to drop. Company officials have begun an aggressive public relations effort to show that removing the chemicals would be harmful to humans and wildlife.

Many environmental groups support the E-P-A's plan. But some people living along the Hudson fear that removing P-C-B's would bring up the chemicals now buried in the mud.

The E-P-A is expected to approve a final plan in June after hearing comments from the public. You can learn more about the Hudson River Wednesday on the Special English program EXPLORATIONS.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

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