Pc Bs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) In The Hudson River. Natural Recovery Vs. Dredging

3806 words - 15 pages

When 60 Minutes' correspondent Lesley Stahl asked about G.E. polluting the Hudson River, G.E.'s chairman, Dr. Welch insisted, "We didn't dump. We had a permit from the U.S. Government and the State of New York to do exactly what we did. Do you think I'd come to work in a company that would do that, or condone that? I wouldn't do it, Lesley! This is nuts!" Well, it turns out that maybe it wasn't so nuts after all for G.E.'s critics to use the 'D' word, and maybe Dr. Welch would work in a company that would do just exactly that - dump (Heller, 2000). In any corporation, the individual members of the corporate board of directors bear ultimate ethical and moral responsibility for a company's decisions and corporate actions. In this case, the individual members of G.E.'s corporate board bear primary and ultimate responsibility for the Company's manner in delaying and avoiding clean up of the firm's PCB mess in the Hudson River. What once was an amber manufacturing oil, is now an invisible plague on New York's signature waterway, and the debate about how best to clean it up continues to rage more than two decades after it began.Increasingly, potentially responsible parties are becoming advocates of a view that natural recovery or processes that reduce the need for costly cleanup of contaminated sediments. On the other hand, in three separate reviews both the State Department of Environmental conservation (DEC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have indicated that dredging would provide substantial environmental benefits with either few or relatively minor adverse impacts (Heller, 2000). Compared to natural recovery, dredging buried PCBs from the Hudson River bottom would be a significantly faster and more efficient way to reduce sediment PCB levels.PCB contamination is considered the most serious environmental problem affecting the Hudson River. PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls are a group of chemicals consisting of 209 individual compounds. PCBs were widely used as a fire preventive and insulator in the manufacture of transformers and capacitors because of their ability to withstand exceptionally high temperatures (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2000). General Electric was one company that used PCBs for these purposes. In 1970, reacting to concerns over PCB accumulations in the environment, the sale of PCBs was restricted to those customers that were manufacturers of sealed electrical equipment only. In 1976, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act that banned the manufacture of PCBs and PCB-containing products and established strict regulations regarding their future use and sale. Two G.E. plants at Fort Edward and Hudson Falls dumped up to 1.3 million pounds of these odorless, colorless toxins into the Hudson, and unknowingly saturated the bedrock beneath both sites over a 30 year period, before they were ordered by New York State to stop in 1977. Pure PCBs are oozing out of the bedrock to this day, constantly...

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