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He requested that the river be managed and administered through the local Housatonic River Commission. GE and the state are awaiting a decision from the federal Environmental Protection Agency over pollutants in the Housatonic River that the company stopped using almost 40 years ago. “GE has been digging its heels in the whole way,” says Dennis Regan, the Berkshire director for the Housatonic Valley Association’s Water Protection division. The EPA unveiled a $613 million plan last October that would span 13 years and require GE to dredge another 10 miles. "The Housatonic River is one of our most important natural resources . GE and the state are awaiting a decision from the federal Environmental Protection Agency over pollutants in the Housatonic River that the company stopped using almost 40 years ago. The Housatonic River Watershed is located primarily in western Massachusetts and Connecticut. Flow-duration curve for the Housatonic River near Great Bar­ rington gaging station for water years 1914-81 12 9-12. From circa 1932 until 1977, the river received PCB pollution discharges from the General Electric (GE) plant at Pittsfield, Massachusetts.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the Pittsfield plant and several miles of the Housatonic to be a Superfund site in 1997, and ordered GE to remediate the site. Because Pruitt has a history of siding with industry over public health, the future of the fight for the Housatonic’s remediation now looks more uncertain than ever. but right now it harbors toxic materials,” said Stephen Hutchinson, the group’s regional director. Beginning the early 1930s and stretching into the late 1970s, the multinational conglomerate dumped polychlorinated biphenyl or PCBs into the Housatonic River from its plant in Pittsfield. The river was essentially dead in the 1980s, but after Danbury constructed a new sewage treatment plant in 1993 the river rebounded. PCBs—all 200-plus types of them—are, to varying degrees, toxic to people and wildlife. The carcinogen TCE has been lurking in the ground beneath Franklin, Indiana, for decades. New Yorkers are resisting efforts to sextuple the number of anchorage grounds in the river and transform their backyard into a parking lot for oil barges. Between 1932 and 1977, GE discharged polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other chemical wastes from its facility in Pittsfield, Mass, into the Housatonic River, which runs through western Massachusetts and Connecticut. Many rivers feed into Long Island Sound; however, two of New England's longest -- the 150-mile-long Housatonic and the 410-mile-long Connecticut rivers -- bring large amounts of pollution. The river shaped the growth of Connecticut during the industrial revolution by providing waterpower for mill towns like Shelton & Derby that sprang up along it’s banks. To add to the list of their nightmarish qualities, certain PCBs can volatilize, or evaporate into the air, where they can be inhaled or spread by weather systems and fall back down to the ground in rain or snow. The earliest settlers, the Mahican Indians, migrated out of New York’s Hudson Valley, coming over the Taconic Mountains. GE, one of the richest companies in the world, argues that doing so would be too expensive and recently took its complaints to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board, an independent panel of judges sometimes referred to as the agency’s “Supreme Court.” GE’s preferred solution is to create a local PCB dump in the towns of Lee and Lenox or Great Barrington, something the Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee—which represents the six most affected towns—is not happy about. Been there, done that, got the oil-soaked T-shirt. This page highlights information related to ongoing clean up issues for the Housatonic River in Western Mass. The following is a summary of the Aquatic Life, Fish Consumption, Primary and The Housatonic River and its floodplain are heavily contaminated with PCBs originating from the GE Facility in Pittsfield, MA. “You don't put a hazardous waste site next to a river,” Pawa told the board. PCBs are persistent in the environment, resistant to degradation, and accumulate quickly in the body. From there they work their way up the food chain, starting with the small invertebrates that find their food in the riverbed and eventually accumulating in the bigger fish and waterbirds that eat them. Unfortunately, this industrial heritage created pollution problems that limited it’s recreational value. Wind and ocean currents have facilitated their long-distance travel around the world—not even denizens of the poles or the bottom of the Marianas Trench have escaped the reach of PCBs. Housatonic River. Housatonic River and the Housatonic River in Massachusetts 8 7. and Conn. The Housatonic River, which flows through Connecticut to Long Island Sound from the Massachusetts border, is seventh on a national conservation … Still, the hearing went forward as planned. Washington The Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins Study Unit, 15,760 square miles in extent, includes eastern Vermont, western New Hampshire, west-central Massachusetts, nearly all of Connecticut, and small parts of New York, Rhode Island, and the Province of Quebec, Canada. These waters drain the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains before joining the Housatonic and eventually emptying into Long Island Sound. Hockanum River Water Pollution Control Facility Upgrade TM 169 Main Street, 700 Plaza Middlesex Middletown, CT 06457 www.wright-pierce.com Manchester, connecticut Project Overview Originally constructed in the mid 1950s as a primary treatment facility, the Hockanum River WPCF was ex-panded in 1970 to provide for secondary treatment. Many species of fish can now be found, and kayak ramps have been installed downriver from Danbury. In the mid-nineteen seventies, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection discovered that PCBs are present in the surficial sediments in the Housatonic River in Connecticut, and also in fish taken from the river. The cows are moved to a new pasture and the level of PCBs in the milk drops by half. When the river overflowed its banks, the pollution was deposited along the floodplain. “It pretty much runs the gamut in terms of illness-causing,” Raichel says. Housatonic River, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Produced and Directed by Mickey Friedman. The cost of removing PCBs from the river is prohibitively expensive. August 13, 2020. “It makes up well over 30 percent of the nitrogen low that goes into the Black Rock Harbor,” Linderoth said, adding this could be associated with the harbor’s low score. But PCBs were deliberately designed to persist under conditions that would cause other molecules to break down. Fish and wildlife throughout the Housatonic watershed have tested at very high concentrations of PCBs, and both Massachusetts and Connecticut have issued consumption advisories. Working for a fishable, swimmable Housatonic River since 1992. Mercury pollution has transported with the river's current into the Housatonic River, and into the Long Island Sound. This page highlights information related to ongoing clean up issues for the Housatonic River in Western Mass. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. DO NOT EAT.”. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health warns against eating fish, frogs, turtles, or ducks from the river, and though the Housatonic is a popular recreational fishing destination, it’s strictly catch and release. And this was wasn’t GE’s only instance of PCB contamination in a northeastern river. Housatonic River Housatonic Watershed. Throughout the course of time, the Housatonic River has played a prominent role in the growth and development of the valley land which surrounds it. When the company left, the departure devastated the area and left behind a legacy of toxic contamination in the Housatonic River, which flows into Long Island Sound. Arriving in Massachusetts some 10,000 years ago, the Indians settled along the […] I looked around and saw a beautiful scenic view of a river surrounded by forests teeming with life, but something didn’t feel quite right. How much longer will the total cleanup take? Gustafson Farm in Watertown becomes part of Connecticut Farmland Trust. PCBs are persistent in the environment, resistant to degradation, and accumulate quickly in the body. First synthesized in the late 19th century, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are pervasive chemicals once used in hundreds of industrial applications, from plasticizing paint to insulating electrical equipment. During much of the past 50 years, the General Electric plant on the north side of town, adjacent to the river, produced transformers. Flowing through the rolling hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the river makes an idyllic backdrop to the region’s famous fall foliage. General Electric Co., which is moving its headquarters to Boston, objects to a new federal plan that … People living near the former GE plant in Pittsfield can be exposed to PCBs when they come into direct contact with contaminated soil or river sediment, consume contaminated fish, or even eat crops grown in the Housatonic floodplain. However a small portion of the western headwaters of the river lie in eastern New York State. You'll receive your first NRDC action alert and update email soon. By then, GE had already discharged an estimated 600,000 pounds of PCBs into the Housatonic. August 13, 2020. Gray's decades of work to address PCB pollution is featured in a new documentary, "The River … July 10, 1970: During a routine sample analysis, PCBs are discovered in the milk of William De vos’ cows, which graze on a farm in Lenox beside the Housatonic River. We know Foxconn wants to take water from Lake Michigan, but what might it leave behind? The Housatonic River. The Housatonic River winds south from Vermont through Western Massachusetts and the town of Pittsfield on its way to Connecticut and eventually to Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Proposed regulations would still allow wastewater to be disposed of in the watershed, with risks to both drinking water and the environment. United States Environmental Protection Agency, DRAFT REVISED 2020 PERMIT/PROPOSED REMEDIAL ACTION ON REST OF RIVER (PDF), 2020 STATEMENT OF BASIS FOR EPA'S PROPOSED REMEDIAL ACTION FOR THE HOUSATONIC RIVER "REST OF RIVER" (PDF), FACT SHEET: EPA SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT ON PROPOSED PERMIT MODIFCATION TO ENHANCE AND SPEED UP CLEANUP OF HOUSATONIC RIVER (PDF, Additional Information on the Draft Revised 2020 Permit, Public Comments and Hearing Transcripts on Draft Revised 2020 Permit. The Salmon Creek tributary of the Housatonic River may have been named for this salmonid, which can reach up to 30 pounds (14 kg). The Housatonic is famously the subject of long-running and controversial cleanup efforts. The Housatonic River, which flows through Connecticut to Long Island Sound from the Massachusetts border, is seventh on a national conservation … EPA and GE began a cleanup of the area in 1999. Boston — A Connecticut-based highway construction company has agreed to pay $100,000 and restore riverbanks along the Housatonic River to settle allegations that its actions at its mining and manufacturing facility in Lee led to the unlawful alteration of those areas and the discharge of industrial material and stormwater pollution into the river, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. When the company left, the departure devastated the area and left behind a legacy of toxic contamination in the Housatonic River, which flows into Long Island Sound. “You don't plunk it down in the middle of a community. State Disclosures. © Natural Resources Defense Council 2020 Privacy Policy Shortly before the Environmental Appeals Board hearing in June, the EPA circulated a memo saying it wanted to reopen negotiations with GE over the case. On November 11, 2016, Governor Malloy of Connecticut applied for designation of the Housatonic River under Section 2(a)(ii) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Housatonic River Housatonic Watershed. Throughout the course of time, the Housatonic River has played a prominent role in the growth and development of the valley land which surrounds it. The Crane Paper Company is also a source of river pollution. The river was essentially dead in the 1980s, but after Danbury constructed a new sewage treatment plant in 1993 the river rebounded. GE, or … Concerns about river visitors and the fishing. The Housatonic River in Massachusetts and Connecticut has been polluted by suspected human carcinogen – and known cancer-causing agent in animals – since the 1930s when GE used the lubricant during transformer manufacturing at its Pittsfield plant. “PCBs are just thoroughly horrible,” says Dan Raichel, an NRDC staff attorney. August 13, 2020. The Housatonic River Watershed is located primarily in western Massachusetts and Connecticut. Results indicate regional benefits associated with an abatement program instituted for point source pollution along the Housatonic River during the 1960's were substantial. The company also dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River, triggering a high-profile legal battle that NRDC has been involved with since the 1970s—and is still fighting today. Fish and wildlife throughout the Housatonic watershed have tested at very high concentrations of PCBs, and both Massachusetts and Connecticut have issued consumption advisories. Historically, the Housatonic River and its Naugatuck River tributary hosted the southernmost spawning runs of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). August 13, 2020. This agreement makes good on our longstanding commitment to a comprehensive cleanup of the Housatonic Rest of River that fully protects the environment. It meanders under covered bridges and through Connecticut, eventually emptying into the Long Island Sound. The EPA plans to rescind the Clean Water Rule, and the Senate gives Scott Pruitt a tongue-lashing. The GE facility released the PCB contaminated wastewater into Silver Pond and the Housatonic River. Housatonic River Connecticut River Thames River Mt. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports. GE and the state are awaiting a decision from the federal Environmental Protection Agency over pollutants in the Housatonic River that the company stopped using almost 40 years ago. The chemical was spilled, leaked or dumped into the Housatonic and carried downstream. And the area has been fighting with the company ever since to get the issue resolved. And now, those people await the board’s decision. August 13, 2020 Slight progress is still progress, but 125 miles of contaminated river still remain. Fast Facts: Housatonic River PCBs. On November 11, 2016, Governor Malloy of Connecticut applied for designation of the Housatonic River under Section 2(a)(ii) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Tim Gray, executive director of the Housatonic River Initiative, travels a reach of the Housatonic River. He requested that the river be managed and administered through the local Housatonic River Commission. EPA and GE began a cleanup of the area in 1999. The Housatonic River is a favorite of New England fly-fishers, kayakers, and hikers. Local groups and government agencies are working together to remediate this Superfund site in the city’s midst, despite diminishing support from the EPA.

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