Spike in Hudson River PCB levels

She went on to say that it would take hours or days to start a flow of water from Troy and test its safety had the town not been drawing water already. The town feels that water left to sit in the 4.5-mile pipeline would probably be stagnant, even if it was left to "trickle" when not in use.

Skopeck said that the agency recently adopted the Green Bay test method instead of the previously used Aroclor 508 method. It's more expensive and time consuming, with a 24-to-48-hour turnaround instead of 12, but it provides more information.

Skopeck argued that since all towns downstream are on alternative water sources, a timely test result is not necessary for safety.

"The issue here is the payment of the water, the turnaround time doesn't matter," she said. "We can do a much quicker turnaround, but we would get a lot less information."

Halfmoon has maintained that the EPA should pay for the cost of alternative water for the duration of the project, disagreeing with the assessment of 500 parts per trillion as a safe threshold. Along with other municipalities, the town is pursuing legal avenues.

"We hope eventually, whether it's with the help of a judge or some further reasoning of their own, they [the EPA] come to the same conclusion we have," said Wormuth.

The cleanup is to run until Nov. 1, when the Champlain Canal closes. The results will be evaluated and a decision will be made whether to continue dredging further downstream. If that larger "Phase II" goes forward, the entire operation could cost General Electric $780 million.

GE is being directed to dredge PCBs, thought to be a carcinogen, out of the Hudson by the federal government. The company dumped the chemicals into the river for three decades.

Monday was not the first time a strong current halted dredging. During the first 45 days of operations, 18 were lost. Still, over 100,000 cubic yards of riverbed have been dredged, and the goal of 200,000 cubic yards is within reach, said Skopeck.

"Even with the rain and conditions in the river, we're only a week behind and we think we'll make that up," she said.""

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