Albany, NY – On Tuesday, August 17th, WAMC aired a report titled Panel Releases Hudson River Dredge Report. In the report, Capitol District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas claims "GE's dumping, most of which was done without permits, occurred from 1946 until 1977, when PCB use was banned."
A 1976 document from hearing officer Abraham D. Soafer to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter A.A. Berle shows this statement is not fully accurate.
The document deals with legal action brought against General Electric by the state DEC in the 1970's to address its industrial discharges of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River. This resulted in an agreement between GE and New York State to cooperatively fund the research and cleanup of PCBs in the river.
It should be noted that the beginnings of the first federal permit program for industrial water discharges came about in 1971. Therefore, it would not have been possible for GE to obtain a permit for PCB discharges until that year.
Spokesman Mark Behan says GE applied for a permit in July of 1971 to discharge PCB's into the Hudson. The DEC document provided here notes GE was issued a permit to do so in 1974.
In the document , DEC's hearing officer says in part:
"GE's conduct in this case was not in willful disregard of the rules and does not fit the stereotype of the corporation that spurns the law in exploiting public resources ..."
"No argument is made that GE's PCB discharges exceeded the effluent limitations in its permits..."
"The Department approved the permit issued to GE as recently as December 31, 1974 ..."
WAMC apologizes for inaccuracies contained in Panel Releases Hudson River Dredge Report.