The Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), and New York State (the Trustees) - are continuing to determine how polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) released from the General Electric Company (GE) plants at Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York harm the natural resources of the Hudson River and the surrounding ecosystem.
The Trustees' goal is to represent the interest of the public by measuring how much harm has been caused by PCBs, and determining how much restoration is necessary to address this harm. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) authorizes the EPA to oversee hazardous substance remediation, and authorizes Natural Resource Trustees to conduct Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDA). Through CERCLA, Congress holds polluters responsible for cleaning up hazardous substances and compensating the public for harm caused by these releases. At the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site, both remediation and damage assessment efforts are currently ongoing.
NRDA has three main phases:
- Preliminary Assessment - A review of existing information to determine if an NRDA is necessary. The Hudson River Trustees completed this in 1997.
- Injury Assessment/Restoration Planning - Conduct studies to document what resources have injured by a contaminant, in this case PCBs, and what restoration needs to be conducted to compensate for those injuries.
- Restoration Implementation - Once the case is resolved and funds are available, the Trustees, with the help of public input, select restoration projects to be implemented.
The Hudson River Trustees are currently in the Injury Assessment/Restoration Planning phase of the Hudson River damage assessment. This phase can take many years.
Restoration is the primary goal of the NRDA process, but the final phase of restoration implementation can only begin after the case is resolved and the responsible part, in this case GE, provides the funds for restoration to compensate the public for injured fish and wildlife resources.
Learn more about the NRDA process and the Hudson River NRDA in the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan (PDF).