For decades G.E. used PCBs or polychlorinated biphenals to make electrical transformers at their former plant on the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. But in 1976 the federal government banned PCBs saying thay are likely to cause cancer. Since then thee Environmental Protection Agency and General Electric removed the toxin from the first two miles below the factory site. But PCBs remain in the sediment and floodplains south of Pittsfield and in fish throughout the river system. Now General Electric is proposing several clean up ideas including one the company calls “ecologically sensitive”. Dennis Regan of the Housatonic Valley Association said his group wants a more through clean up than is being proposed.
“I still think we should do more. G.E. put the PCBs into the river and I think GE should take the PCBs out of the river.”
A spokesperson for the E.P.A .said the agency wants to make sure the clean up removes the toxin from both the river channel and the floodplains so PCBs don’t migrate downstream to Connecticut. One question that has not been answered is where the PCBs that are removed from the river will go. G.E. suggests the materials be put in a landfill near the river, but outside of the floodplain. The public has until Friday to comment on the company’s clean up plan.