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Housatonic River Cleanup Mediation Continues

Tuesday, May, 29, 2018

The Housatonic River cleanup continues to receive attention from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Continuing mediation is still expected to be successful for resolving the dispute concerning the river.  The cleanup of PCBS has been ongoing for decades after GE dumped the contaminates into the river between the 1930s and 1970s.


The goal of mediation is to develop a final cleanup and disposal agreement for GE’s remediation of the “Rest of the River” area of the Housatonic.  It was the EPA that initiated mediation proceedings, but also continued administrative proceedings that could eventually end up in litigation.  The processes are occurring concurrently. 


A mediator from DC, who was agreed upon by both GE and the EPA, is expected to sit down with those involved in the dispute in the coming weeks.  The mediator is attorney John Bickerman and his goal is to practice fact-finding and assist the two sides in creating a mutually agreed-upon solution.


If no agreement is reached during mediation, the permit governing dredging and disposal of soil and sediment will likely end up being challenged in a federal court.


A representative from the EPA says the agency is working hard toward a resolution and hopes to have a strong argument for out-of-state disposal, but he also stated “whether on or off-side, we do not care; we just want to get this done.  We do not want to see seven years more in court. ”


He stated the EPA has not changed its position from the beginning and still wants off-site disposal.  However, they are open to mediation.  Meanwhile, the river continues to be lined with PCB warning signs, acknowledging the danger that exists while the cleanup project continues to be debated.