- Associated Press - Thursday, December 14, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York officials said Thursday they’ll sue if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certifies General Electric Co.’s $1.7 billion Superfund cleanup of the upper Hudson River is complete.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both Democrats, said the PCB dredging of a 40-mile stretch of river wasn’t sufficient to protect public health and the river. The lawsuit would seek further cleanup work.

Under the legal action, New York also would withdraw from the 2002 agreement with EPA that guided the cleanup if the certificate is issued

Boston-based GE completed removal of 2.75 million cubic yards (2.1 million cubic meters) of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated sediment from the river in 2015. An EPA review this summer found, based on data so far, the cleanup will protect human health and the environment long term and no more dredging is needed, although it could take 55 years or more before fish are clean enough to eat once a week.

Critics pushing for a broader cleanup have noted that a large amount of PCB-contaminated sediment remains in the river. The state Department of Environmental Conservation spent $2 million to do its own testing of PCB levels in the river over the summer.

“The data is clear: The job is not done and the EPA cannot declare that this remediation is complete,” Cuomo said in a statement that called the lawsuit announcement the second proposal of his 2018 state of the state agenda.

GE spokesman Mark Behan said GE has met all of its commitments to EPA and New York state.

“New York state had 16 years to object to this project and did not do so,” Behan said. “It in fact endorsed the project when significantly less PCBs were going to be taken out of the river than were ultimately removed.”

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency still is working to complete its second five-year review of the project and will not decide on GE’s request for a certificate of completion until that review is complete, including responding to comments from the state and others.

She said EPA doesn’t anticipate making a final determination by Jan. 3 on GE’s request for certification of completion. The agency received GE’s request on Jan. 3, 2017, and is supposed to respond within 365 days.

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