Ecological Services
Northeast Region
General Electric's Hudson Falls Plant and Bakers Falls on the Hudson River.  EPA Photo.General Electric's Hudson Falls Plant and Bakers Falls on the Hudson River. EPA Photo.
This case addresses natural resource injuries that have occurred due to the release of hazardous substances, particularly polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), to the Hudson River, primarily from General Electric's Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, New York manufacturing plants.

Recent Publications and News:

  • The Fish and Wildlife Service, a Federal Partner within Partners Restoring the Hudson, issued a letter in July 2018 upon the release of the Partnership's Comprehensive Restoration Plan.The Fish and Wildlife Service shares the Partnership's goal of restoring and protecting the valuable landscapes of the Hudson River Watershed.
  • The Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees issued a fact sheet and press release today (11/1/18) to highlight the results of a Trustee - funded field study investigating the effects of PCB contamination on American mink. The publication, Large-scale variation in density of an aquatic ecosystem indicator speciesshows that mink densities are substantially lower in the PCB-contaminated Hudson River system versus a reference system (Mohawk River). The study is the latest demonstration of the Trustees’ documentation of natural resource injuries caused by General Electric’s releases of PCBs to the Hudson River from its manufacturing facilities in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, New York. 
  • The New York State Department of Health has issued updated (January 2018) health advice on fish from waters of the Hudson Valley Region of New York State, including the Hudson River. Females under age 50 and Males under age 15 are advised to eat no fish from the Upper, Middle, and Lower Hudson River.

    Health Advice on Eating Fish You Catch: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2794.pdf

    The fish consumption advisories for the Hudson River are evidence that the public's use of Hudson River fishery has been dramatically limited by PCB contamination in those fish. The Trustees have documented the restrictions as an injury pursuant to Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations (43 CFR Part 11). We will compensate the public for this loss through the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration process. On behalf of the American people, including all New Yorkers, the Trustees will continue to vigorously pursue measures to ensure General Electric meets its obligations, and to recover damages to restore the natural resources of the Hudson River.

  • The Hudson River Environmental Society's 2018 Hudson River Science Symposium, "Contaminants in the Hudson River and Watershed" was held at the State University of New York at New Paltz, on May 2, 2018. Trustee agencies participated in the presentation of two posters at this symposium.
    • NOAA: Preliminary Evaluation of Post-Dredging PCBs in Upper Hudson River Surface Sediment. Poster and Abstract
    • NYS DEC Bureau of Habitat: PCBs in select organisms of the Hudson River floodplain: amphibians, small mammals, and birds. Poster and Abstract
  • The Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees released an Assessment Update Fact Sheet today (4/13/2018). This fact sheet describes the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process being undertaken by Trustees under the DOI Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations (43 C.F.R. Part 11).
  • In response to a request from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of the Interior provided comments to EPA, in a letter dated December 13, 2017, on the Remedial Action Completion Report submitted to the EPA by the General Electric Company.
  • The Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees released today (11/13/2017) a Data Report, "PCB Concentrations in Mink Prey Items -- Fish, Frogs, and Small Mammals -- Collected from the Hudson River," dated October 2017.

    The Mink Prey Data Report contains the result of an investigation, conducted in 2008 and 2009, of PCB concentrations in typical mink prey. Prey (food) that mink eat -- fish, frogs, and small mammals -- were collected from sites along the Hudson River where mink had previously been collected, and analyzed for PCBs. The data demonstrate that mink prey along the upper Hudson River downstream of the former General Electric plants are contaminated with PCBs; PCBs were found in all prey tissue samples. Mink consuming those contaminated food items would be exposed to PCBs. PCBs can have toxic effects on mink, including adverse effects on their reproduction. For example, in the Trustees' mink PCB-feeding study (Bursian et al. 2013) a dietary concentration of 0.34 ppm PCBs in food fed to adult mink resulted in 20% mortality (LC20) of 6-week old kits born to those mink. The dietary LC20 (0.34 ppm PCBs) is that concentration in the diet which will kill 20% of the test animals during a certain time. As shown in Table 4 of the data report, many of the prey samples exceed that 0.34 ppm PCBs level, indicating a high risk for adverse effects to mink. Accordingly, the Trustees continue to investigate potential injuries to mink.

  • Work on fish supported by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees has been published:

Histopathology of brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus), smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in relation to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the Hudson River
Pinkney, A. E., M. S. Myers, and M. A. Rutter
2017
Science of the Total Environment, v. 575, p. 1325-1338.
Abstract available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716321398

The Trustees have released a Fact Sheet about this publication that provides the results of the “Hudson River Fish Health Assessment.”

NYSDOH has also provided a Hudson River-specific brochure (Feb 2017) at: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2794.pdf

The fish consumption advisories for the Hudson River contained in the New York State Department of Health's 2017 sportfish booklets, are evidence that the public's use of Hudson River fishery has been dramatically limited by PCB contamination in those fish. These restrictions will not be lifted without additional reductions in fish PCB concentrations. The Trustees previously documented the restrictions as an injury pursuant to Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations (43 CFR Part 11). We will compensate the public for this loss through the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration process. Projects could include improving fish habitat or increasing fish populations. On behalf of the American people, including all New Yorkers, the Trustees will continue to vigorously pursue measures to ensure General Electric meets its obligations, and to recover damages to restore the natural resources of the Hudson River.

  • Work on mink supported by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees has now been published:
    Use of PCB and TEQ concentrations in scat from mink (Neovison vison) fed fish from the Upper Hudson River to predict dietary and hepatic concentrations and health effects
    Steven J. Bursian, John Kern, Richard E. Remington, Jane E. Link
    Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry
    Accepted manuscript online: 6 October 2017; DOI:  10.1002/etc.3997
    Abstract available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/etc.3997/abstract
  • Injury Determination Report, PCB Concentrations in Hudson River Resident Waterfowl (August 2013. The Injury Determination concludes that data demonstrate that resident mallards accumulated PCBs from the Hudson River at levels that exceed the federal tolerance for PCB levels in poultry. Therefore, an injury to a biological resource -- waterfowl resident to the Hudson River -- as defined in the Department of the Interior Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations, has occurred.
  • Modification to Study Plan for Mink Injury Determination: Investigation of Mink Abundance and Density Relative to Polychlorinated Biphenyl Contamination within the Hudson River Drainage (August 2013).
  • Injury to the Hudson River (May 2013):

    NYSDOH has released a new "Health Advice on Eating Sportfish and Game" booklet, available here.

    There is also a Northern Hudson-specific brochure available at that web site.

    These fish consumption advisories issued by the State of New York are an injury to a natural resource pursuant to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations (43 CFR Part 11). Those regulations provide that a natural resource injury exists whenever a hazardous substance, such as PCBs, is present in the fish flesh at concentrations sufficient to “exceed levels for which an appropriate State health agency has issued directives to limit or ban consumption of such organism.” Accordingly, a natural resource -- the Hudson River fishery -- has been injured as a result of these health advisories.

  • The Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees released a report, "PCB Contamination of the Hudson River Ecosystem," today (1/16/2013) showing that the Hudson River, for greater than 200 miles below Hudson Falls, New York, is extensively contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Surface waters, sediments, floodplain soils, fish, birds, wildlife, and other biota are all contaminated with PCBs. The report demonstrates decades of high levels of PCB contamination and likely adverse effects on living organisms exposed to the contamination in the Hudson River. (Press Release)
  • Hudson River Trustees' presentation  on restoration given on December 11, 2012 to the Community Advisory Group for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site.
  • Injury determination work on birds supported by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees was presented by the Trustees’ Principal Investigators at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry meeting, November 11-15, 2012, in Long Beach, California.
    • Barton et al. 2012 Abstract. EROD activity in wild and laboratory birds with embryonic exposure to environmentally relevant PCB mixtures as an assessment of biomarkers of exposure. Poster. SETAC 2012.
    • Carro et al. 2012 Abstract. Effects of Embryonic Exposure to PCBs on heart development in avian laboratory species. Presentation. SETAC 2012.
    • Ottinger et al. 2012 Abstract. Comparing Effects of Complex Mixtures versus Single PCBs: Functional Outcomes of Exposure in Field and Lab Studies. Presentation. SETAC 2012.
  • A study on early life-stage toxicities of PCB 126 and TCDD in sturgeons, for which funding was provided by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees as part of the ongoing Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment, has been published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: Chambers, R. Christopher, Dawn D. Davis, Ehren A. Habeck, Nirmal K. Roy, and Isaac Wirgin. 2012. Toxic Effects of PCB126 and TCDD on Shortnose Sturgeon and Atlantic Sturgeon. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, In Press Accepted manuscript online 23 July 2012.
  • The Trustees are releasing a "Bald Eagle Update" Fact Sheet and five reports that contain contaminants data on bald eagle egg samples, bald eagle fat and plasma samples, and bald eagle prey samples collected from the Hudson River, and other locations in New York State, beginning in 1998 and continuing through 2004.
  • Mink Injury Determination: Draft Study Plan and Fact Sheet for Investigation of Mink Abundance and Density Relative to Polychlorinated Biphenyl Contamination within the Hudson River Drainage
  • The Trustees' Restoration Proposal Form (The form is also available in Word format) has been updated with new contact information for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • Injury determination work on birds, mink, and fish supported by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees was presented by the Trustees’ Principal Investigators at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry meeting, November 13-17, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. The posters and platforms presented were:

Birds:

Mink:

Fish:

Funding or other support for these projects was provided by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees as part of the ongoing Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Please note that the conclusions and opinions presented in these presentations are those of the authors, they do not represent the official position of any of the funding agencies, the Hudson River Trustees or the United States.

  • Federal Trustee Letter (dated 6/21/2011) to General Electric on Phase 2 Design for Hudson River Dredging. The Federal Natural Resource Trustees urge General Electric to maximize the benefits of the habitat reconstruction component of the remedial design, incorporate primary restoration into the remedy, and strengthen the adaptive management and monitoring program to increase the likelihood of successful recovery. This can be achieved by modifying the final design to be more sensitive to the environment, more consistent with restoration principles, and more directed at maximizing restoration of the habitats harmed by the remedy and by residual PCBs.

Additional Reports and Documents

Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment

Hudson River NRDA ListServe

The Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Department of the Interior -- have established a listserve to provide updates on the ongoing natural resource damage assessment and restoration efforts for the Hudson River. The public is invited to join the listserve for periodic updates on this effort.

For the Hudson-NRDA listserv:


Natural Resource Damage Assessment Reports and Determinations

Reports and other documents were prepared by the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Natural Resource Trustees, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS; Department of the Interior (DOI)). Please direct any questions or comments related to the Hudson River NRDA to:

Kathryn Jahn, DOI Case Manager, 607-753-9334, kathryn_jahn@fws.gov

Margaret Byrne, FWS Assessment and Restoration Manager, 413-253-8593, margaret_byrne@fws.gov

Robin Heubel, FWS Region 5 NRDA Coordinator, 413-253-8630, robin_heubel@fws.gov

Additional Reports and Documents:

NOTE: These documents are organized by phase of work, with the newest documents within each category at the top of each section.

  1. Preassessment Phase

Hudson River Preassessment Screen

  1. Assessment Planning and Injury Assessment

     

    1. Assessment Planning
    2. Analytical Quality Assurance Plan, Version 2.0, for the Hudson River NRDA September 2005 (pdf).

      Responsiveness Summary for the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan, July 2003 (pdf)

      Analytical Quality Assurance Plan - Version 1.0 (pdf)

      Fact Sheet: Hudson River NRDA Update - Spring 2003 (pdf)

      Public Availability Sessions on NRDA Plan, October 2002 (pdf)

      Press Release: TRUSTEES RELEASE PLAN TO ASSESS HUDSON RIVER RESOURCE INJURIES, Sept. 17, 2002 (pdf)

      Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan, Sept. 2002 (2MB pdf)

      Fact Sheet: Summary of the Damage Assessment Plan (pdf)

      Executive Summary Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan

      Response to Public Comments on the Draft Scope for the Hudson River Natural Resource Damages Assessment Plan. June 1999.

      Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Notice of Availability and Request for Comments on a Damage Assessment Scoping Document, 63 Fed. Reg. 52,244 (September 30, 1998) (pdf)

      Draft Scope for the Hudson River Natural Resource Damages Assessment Plan

    1. Injury Determination and Quantification

       

      1. Biological Resources

         

        1. Fish
        2. Fact Sheet for Fish Toxicity Pilot Study for the Hudson River (111kb pdf May 2009)

          Sampling and Analysis Plan for Hudson River Fish Health Assessment (pdf)

          Assessing Fish Health -- Fall 2001 Status Report on the Hudson River NRDA (pdf)

          Injuries to Hudson River Fisheries Resources Report (1.2MB pdf)

        3. Birds
        4. Hudson River Avian Injury Study Year 4 Trustee Study Plan FINAL (447kb pdf June 2009)

          Responsiveness Summary for the Study Plan for the Waterfowl Injury Assessment: Determining PCB Concentrations in Hudson River Resident Waterfowl. (1.7 MB Dec. 2008)

          Final Study Plan for Waterfowl Injury Assessment: Determining PCB Concentrations in Hudson River Resident Waterfowl (1.7 MB pdf. Dec. 2008)

          Hudson River Trustees Release Responsiveness Summary for 2008 Avian Injury Plan (pdf)

          Fact Sheet for Waterfowl Investigations 2007-2008 (pdf .Sept. 2007)

          Study Plan for Avian Injury Study Year 3 (2008) (600KB pdf)

          Responsiveness Summary for Avian Injury Study Amendment for 2007. (pdf)

          Draft Study Plan for an Avian Injury Study for 2008 (pdf) for public review and comment.

          Final Study Plan for Avian Egg Injection Study, Year 2 (2007). (1.4MB pdf file)

          Draft Study Plan for Waterfowl Injury Assessment - PCBs in Hudson River Resident Waterfowl [Word].

          Design and Preparation of a Custom 58-Congener PCB Mixture Dosing Solution for Avian Egg Injection Studies (2.2MB pdf)

          Revised Study Plan for Avian Egg Injection Study. January 31, 2007 (2.5MB pdf)

          Draft Study Plan for an Avian Injury Study - Amendment for Year 2 (2007) (pdf).

          Fact Sheet - Avian Investigations for the Hudson River NRDA, December 2006 Update (680KB pdf)

          Final Study Plan for an Avian Egg Injection Study (2MB pdf)

          Responsiveness Summary for the Avian Egg Injection Study Plan (pdf)

          Modification to Study Plan for Avian Investigations for the Hudson River - USGS Study Plan Amendment for 2006 (pdf)

          Draft Study Plan for an Avian Egg Injection Study (900KB pdf)

          Data Report for the Collection of Eggs from Eastern Screech Owl Associated with the Hudson River from Hudson Falls to Schodack Island, New York (800KB pdf).

          Responsiveness Summary for the Study Plan for Year 2004 Avian Investigations for the Hudson River

          Work Summary and Data Report for the Collection of Eggs from American Peregrine Falcon, Hudson River, New York (pdf)

          Modification to Study Plan for Avian Investigations for the Hudson River - USGS Study Plan Amendment for 2005, May 2005 (pdf)

          Revised Final Avian Egg Exposure Data Report (2.1MB pdf) (Revision posted 06/29/2005)

          Final Study Plan for Year 2004 Avian Investigations for the Hudson River (3MB pdf).

          Fact Sheet: Avian Investigation for the Year 2004, Spring 2004 (pdf).

          Draft Study Plan for Year 2004 Avian Investigations for the Hudson River Released for Public Review and Comment (pdf).

          Egg PCB Contamination of Various Avian Feeding Guilds from the Upper Hudson River Valley (Results of the Trustees' Spring-Summer 2002 collection of eggs from 11 species of Hudson River birds). Abstract and Presentation (1.2MB pdf)

          Fact Sheet: Preliminary Investigations of Bird Injuries (pdf)

          FWS Report (1997) on 1994 Tree Swallow Study (7.13MB pdf)

        5. Mammals
        6. Fact Sheet: Mink Field Study (100kb pdf November 2010)

          Draft Study Plan for Public Review and Comment for an Investigation.... Investigation of Mink Occupancy Relative to Polychlorinated Biphenyl Contamination within the Hudson River Drainage (August 2010)

          Work Summary and Data Report for Preliminary Investigation of PCBs in Hudson River Bats (550KB pdf)

          Fact Sheet (pdf) - provides an update on the "Preliminary Investigation of PCBs in Hudson River bats".

          Responsiveness Summary for the Mink Injury Study Plan (pdf).

          Fact Sheet - Mink Investigations for the Hudson River NRDA, Summer 2006 Update (600KB pdf)

          Final Study Plan for Mink Injury Investigations for the Hudson River (2.5MB pdf)

          Draft Study Plan for Mink Injury Investigations for the Hudson River (3MB pdf)

          Progress Report on Hudson River Mammals: Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Levels in Mink, Otter, and Muskrat and Trapping Results for Mink, the Upper Hudson River Drainage, 1998-2000

          Factors Affecting the Distribution of Mink from Contaminated Habitats, Report of Research Activity 1993-1994, prepared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

        7. Reptiles and Amphibians
        8. Data Report (500KB pdf) and Fact Sheet (pdf) for 2004 Amphibian Preliminary Investigation

          Data Report(1.0MB pdf) and Fact Sheet (pdf) for 2003 Amphibian Preliminary Investigation

          Data Report for the Collection of Eggs from the Common Snapping Turtle from the Hudson River, New York (740KB pdf) and associated Database User Manual (pdf).

          Data Report for Screening for Organochlorine and Metal Contaminant Levels in Hudson River, New York Bullfrogs and Snapping Turtles (6.5MB pdf), and associated Quality Assurance Project Plan (1.6MB pdf).

          The Accumulation of Sedimentary PCBs in Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) Tadpoles From the Upper Hudson River, November 2004 (pdf).

          Fact Sheet: Preliminary Investigation of Frogs and Sediments, Spring 2004 (pdf).

          PCB Contamination of Common Snapping Turtle Eggs from the Hudson River, New York (Results of the Trustees' June 2002 collection of eggs from Hudson River common snapping turtles). Abstract and Poster (pdf) .

          Preliminary Investigation of Snapping Turtles (pdf)

      2. Surface Water
      3. Aquatic Insect Data Report Sept 2009 (982kb pdf)

        Injury Determination Report for Hudson River Surface Water Resources. (1 MB Dec. 2008)

        Fact Sheet for Sediment Toxicity Pilot Study for the Hudson River (pdf Sept. 2008)

        Injuries to Hudson River Surface Water Resources Resulting in the Loss of Navigational Services . (July 2006)

      4. Groundwater
      5. Geologic Resources
      6. Data report for the Collection of Small Mammals and American Woodcock from the Floodplain of the Hudson River, New York in Year 2001, Analysis of Floodplain Earthworms from the Year 2000, and Re-Analysis of Select Floodplain Soils and Small Mammals from the Year 2000 - FINAL (9.87MB pdf January 2010)

        Hudson River NRDA Floodplain Data Summary, June 2004 (pdf).

        PCBs in Floodplain Soils and Shrews of the Hudson River - a Presentation by the Trustees (pdf)

        Floodplain Soil and Biota Screening Sampling Report (1.7MB pdf)

      7. Air
  2. Damage Determination and Restoration
  3. Addressing PCB-Related Losses Along the Hudson River Through A Natural Resource Damage Claim, 10/04 (pdf).

    Restoration Proposal Form (updated) (pdf) | (docx)

  4. Other
  5. Public Participation Plan - Phase I (pdf)

    Public Participation Plan - Phase II (pdf)

    Hudson River Restoration: Role of Natural Resource Trustees (Clearwaters Journal article, spring 2002)

    Summer 2000 Status Report on the Hudson River NRDA (pdf)

  6. Coordination with EPA
  7. The two Federal Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees (NOAA and DOI) request EPA to address flawed fish data collection on the Hudson River, in a letter dated July 2016.

    The Hudson River Natural Resource Federal Trustees have two posters at the Hudson-Delaware Chapter Society of Environmental Toxicology meeting, Wilmington, Delaware, April 27-28, 2011: "Hudson River Remedy Part I: Unremediated PCBs and the Implications for Restoration”, which was also at Battelle's Sixth International Conference on Remediation of Contaminated Sediments in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 7-10, 2011 (8.5MB); and "Hudson River Remedy Part II: Habitat Remediation and Reconstruction and the Implications for Restoration” (2.2MB).

    Conference poster: Hudson River Remedy: Unremediated PCBs and the Implications for Restoration. This poster was presented by the Hudson River Natural Resource Federal Trustees -- NOAA and U.S. DOI/FWS -- at Battelle's Sixth International Conference on Remediation of Contaminated Sediments in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 7-10, 2011. (11.7MB)

    Press release from the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees -- DOI, NOAA, & NYS -- dated May 7, 2010 "Trustees for the Hudson River dredging project today announced their support for the Environmental Protection Agency's plans to remove PCBs from the river. The overall environmental benefits of the dredging greatly outweigh any short-term PCB impacts of the work," they said.

    Federal Trustee Comments presented by Bob Foley (DOI) on May 4, 2010 and on May 5, 2010 at the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site Phase 1 Peer Review Panel meeting. (25kb pdf May 2010)

    Comments by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees to EPA on the Phase 1 Evaluation Reports for consideration by the Peer Review Panel (51kb pdf Apr 2010)

    Comments by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees at the Hudson River Phase 1 Dredging Peer Review Panel on February 17-18, 2010 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

     


Other links:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Hudson River Homepage

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Hudson River PCB Superfund Site

US Environmental Protection Agency - Hudson River PCBs Homepage

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Contaminants Program, Habitat Restoration Homepage

 


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Last updated: November 9, 2018