HUDSON FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement to dismantle the Powerhouse and Allen Mill in Hudson Falls, with General Electric Company (GE) and the facilities’ owner, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (NMPC). The buildings are being taken down due to their deteriorated condition and will be carefully dismantled to avoid the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances into the Hudson River. Under the terms of the legal agreement, GE and NMPC will pay EPA’s oversight costs.
The agreement requires NMPC and GE to submit detailed plans to EPA outlining how the structures will be taken down without releasing hazardous substances into the river. The plans include air, surface water, and groundwater monitoring. A Community Air Monitoring Plan will include a description of the monitoring approach and sampling methods at the site. That information will be used to determine appropriate measures to limit air impacts to the surrounding community from site contaminants and dust during the work. The companies are also reimbursing EPA for the costs incurred for planning the work.
“This agreement minimizes any release of hazardous materials such as PCBs into the river as these buildings are taken apart carefully and safely,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “It is also important to guard against introducing contamination from areas next to and underneath the buildings into the river as the buildings come down.”
The Allen Mill is a former textile mill, built in the mid-1800s, and borders the former GE Hudson Falls facility. The Powerhouse, which is immediately downstream from the Allen Mill, was constructed in 1907 and supplied hydroelectric power to the Mill through a system of raceways and tunnels that were excavated into the bedrock.
During a 30-year period ending in 1977, PCBs were discharged into the Hudson River from GE’s two capacitor manufacturing plants located in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls. PCB released from the plants caused significant surface and below-ground contamination. The former GE Fort Edward and Hudson Falls plant sites are being addressed under New York State’s Superfund program.
Under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) oversight, a tunnel drain collection system was installed at the Hudson Falls site in 2007-2009, to stop the migration of site PCBs into the river. GE performed dredging in the upper Hudson River to remove PCB-contaminated sediment, under EPA oversight, between 2009-2015. In addition, DEC directed GE to undertake an extensive soil remediation program at the Hudson Falls site, which removed contaminated soil down to bedrock.
PCB contamination remains in the bedrock and is being controlled by the tunnel drain collection system and the groundwater extraction and treatment system operating at the GE Hudson Falls facility. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State DEC continues to oversee the Hudson Falls site cleanup to ensure the final remedy is protective of public health and the environment. In partnership and coordination with EPA, the demolition project is advancing safely to prevent PCBs from migrating into the river.”
The Powerhouse deconstruction work is scheduled to begin in early August. The work will begin with the Powerhouse and continue with the Allen Mill in the future. If the Powerhouse work cannot be completed this season, it will be suspended during the winter months and will begin again in spring 2023.