A proposed US Army Corps of Engineers project that calls for the installation of massive, in-water storm surge barriers would have “catastrophic consequences” for the environment and the economy of the Hudson Valley, according to a recent report by the nonprofit environmental group American Rivers. The outlook is so dire that the organization has ranked the Hudson second on its “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” list (behind only New Mexico’s Gila River), a move designed to increase public awareness and rally protest against the project.
The concrete structures, which look something like giant highway lane barriers, would be strategically placed in the river to protect certain areas from the kind of flooding spurred by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But the project will permanently degrade the ecology of the river, which supplies critical habitat for several endangered species and is at the core of the valley’s $5.5 billion tourism industry, the group says. For more information, visit endangeredrivers.americanrivers.org.
If that’s not enough bad news for you, the mood is not good among those who fought to get General Electric to clean up the PCB contamination that led to some sections of the river being declared Superfund sites.
Though the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation claims the cleanup is incomplete, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a “certificate of completion” in April that says GE’s mandated work is done. The decision was tempered somewhat by the EPA’s declaration that more study is needed regarding the long-term effectiveness of the cleanup effort, conceding that more cleanup might be ordered pending more study. The state claims parts of the river still pose health threats and reportedly plans to sue the EPA.