July 30, 2008

EPA Won’t Pay for Water: Hudson River Towns Get Help Only If Safety an Issue

By Leigh Hornbeck, Albany Times Union, N.Y.

Jul. 30--SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The Environmental Protection Agency will not pay for an alternative drinking water source for Hudson River communities affected by PCBs unless testing finds the chemical amount in the water violates safety standards, U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand said Tuesday.

Gillibrand met in Washington D.C. with Alan Steinberg, administrator for the EPA's Region Two, which includes the stretch of the Hudson where the EPA intends to remove PCBs from the river bottom.

The EPA has agreed to pay for pipeline improvements between Troy and Waterford but will not pay for the water itself. Halfmoon and Stillwater are still without an alternative source. Dredging is scheduled to being in 2009.

Elected officials from Stillwater, Halfmoon and Waterford had hoped the agency would pay for the cost of water.

The water still meets safety standards of fewer than 500 nanograms per liter, but Gillibrand said she is not content.

"The problem is that we as a community and as local leaders do not feel comfortable that such a standard is necessarily safe -- particularly for more vulnerable communities such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and nursing moms -- since there has never been a study of health effects of PCB exposure for the length of time of the dredging project," the congresswoman said in a statement.

Gillibrand's spokeswoman added that her office will continue to seek funding for the towns' infrastructure needs from General Electric, which was the source of PCBs in the river, as well as the state.


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