Between the years 1947 and 1977 approximately 1.3 million pounds of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) was discharged into the Hudson River from G.E.’s capacitor manufacturing plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edwards, New York. PCB is a carcinogen that has been associated with low birth weight, thyroid disease and learning/memory/immune system disorders. Such large concentrations of the chemical have closed many commercial/recreational fisheries on the river and has caused significant bio-diversity loss.
In 2009 G.E. cooperated with the EPA to dredge a 6-mile section of PCB laden mud from the northern Hudson River at Fort Edwards. The project marked “phase 1” of the two-phase effort to completely rid the Hudson of PCB’s by 2016. The Beacon Institute’s “River and Estuary Network” (REON) stresses that it is crucial to consider the northern Hudson to be more than a dump/dredge site of PCB’s but instead an area with unique ecological, hydrological and chemical characteristics. REON feels that an understanding of such characteristics is important to successfully remove PCB’s and other pollutants from the river.
To monitor such characteristics, REON has worked closely with G.E. to develop an advanced monitoring platform named B2. B2 employs technology to collect and transmit data pertaining to suspended particles, oxygen levels, salinity, flow speed, temperature, barometric pressure and chemical detectors. G.E. has its own chemical monitoring stations in the region that can be paired seamlessly with B2’s sediment data to understand how pollutants are distributed throughout the river.
Clarkson University is leading research in this area. B2’s real-time data is publicly available at http://serf.clarkson.edu/cgi-bin/tipool/final_tipool_1.htm.