On Friday, May 15, the blue claw of a crane pulled the first load of PCB-laden river bottom from the Hudson River in Fort Edward. At about the same time, miles downstream, the Town of Halfmoon made good on a promise to its residents to stop drawing water from the Hudson, and instead turned on a feed from the City of Troy.
From now until the dredging stops, water will travel along a 4.5-mile pipeline before reaching the Halfmoon Water Treatment Plant, where the town will test the water and treat it, if necessary. Since the length of the dredging process and the amount of treatment the water will need is unclear an exact cost for the switch is unknown, though the town estimated that the cost could increase up to 25 percent. Halfmoon customers pay $3.35 per 1,000 gallons of Hudson water.
The water line cost $8.2 million, paid for by General Electric and the Environmental Protection Agency.
If the federal government and GE won't step up and do the right thing, we will, said Halfmoon Supervisor Mindy Wormuth at a Thursday, May 14, press conference. "We feel it's our responsibility to take care of this."
Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian said the city's water system has enough excess capacity to service Halfmoon and a few other towns along the Hudson, and expects the city to make a $500,000 to $1 million profit from the deal with Halfmoon. He said monetary gain is not the goal, though.
"Dredging has been a contentious issue for some time," said Tutunjian. "I commend any community that steps up to provide drinking water for its residents."
GE dumped PCBs " a likely carcinogen " into the Hudson for three decades until 1977, when the chemical was banned by the federal government as a likely carcinogen. Under an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, GE will dredge 265,000 cubic yards of river bottom by November, when the Champlain Canal closes. After an independent review of the operation, a much larger second phase could run until 2015, in which the river would be dredged all the way to Troy.