General Electric Co. (GE:US) is in talks with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on expanding its cleanup of contaminants in the Hudson River, according to the head of the state’s canal agency.
“It’s being talked about, but no agreement is in place yet,” Brian Stratton, director of the New York State Canal Corp., said in an interview at the state Capitol in Albany. “It’s occurring within other levels of government, the governor’s office and the attorney general’s office.”
GE, which dumped as much as 1.3 million pounds (590,000 kilograms) of likely carcinogens into the Hudson over three decades, says it has spent more than $1 billion removing polluted sediment under agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A fourth season of dredging on a 40-mile (64- kilometer) stretch of the river began yesterday.
GE promised state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in March to study widening the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a step favored by DiNapoli as a way to possibly lessen fines against the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company for environmental damage. At the time, he controlled GE stock as sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund.
The canal agency has argued that state and federal regulators’ assessment of the ecological damage from the pollution should include the cost of restoring Hudson River navigation channels outside GE’s dredging zone. That could result in additional penalties for GE.
Mark Behan, a company spokesman who works for works for Behan Communications Inc., declined to comment on whether Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE is in talks with New York sate officials.
“EPA is in charge of this project, has determined the scope of this project and has said it does not intend to expand the scope of this project on three separate occasions, most recently last summer,” Behan said by telephone. “We have no expectation that EPA will change its view.”
Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman, and Damien LaVera, a spokesman for Schneiderman, didn’t immediately respond to e- mails and phone calls requesting comment on the talks with GE.
GE sued National Grid Plc (NG/)’s Niagara Mohawk unit in federal court in New York seeking costs associated with the dredging. GE alleged in a complaint filed April 26 that contaminated sediment and debris was released when the utility removed a dam at Fort Edward, New York.
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