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Trustees Open 30-Day Public Comment Period on Draft Mink Injury Study Plan for Natural Resource Damage Assessment for Hudson River, New York


03/19/2012


General Electric Company's Hudson Falls plant The Hudson River at Bakers Falls with General Electric Company’s Hudson Falls Plant, a capacitor manufacturing facility and a primary source of PCBs contamination in the River, in the background. A 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River has been designated a NPL site by the Environmental Protection Agency. Photo credit: EPA.

 

On March 19, 2012 the federal and State natural resource trustees opened a 30-day public review and comment period on the draft “Study Plan for Mink Injury Determination -- Investigation of Mink Abundance and Density Relative to Polychlorinated Biphenyl Contamination within the Hudson River Drainage.” A Fact Sheet describing the mink injury investigations was concurrently released by the trustees.

The natural resource trustees involved in the Hudson River PCBs case are the State of New York, the Department of Commerce, acting through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of the Interior (DOI), acting through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), representing the concerned DOI bureaus (FWS and National Park Service).

In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency placed a 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River in New York -- from Hudson Falls to the Battery in New York City -- on the National Priorities List of contaminated sites due to PCBs contamination. The EPA has estimated that, between the 1940s and 1977, the General Electric Company released up to 1.3 million pounds of PCBs from two capacitor manufacturing plants, one in Hudson Falls and the other in Fort Edward, into the Hudson River.

The PCBs from these releases contaminated surface water, sediments, floodplain soils, groundwater, fish, birds, wildlife and other biota in the Hudson River. In 2002, the trustees finalized a strategy to assess injuries to these natural resources in the publicly-reviewed “Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan.” The Draft Mink Injury Study Plan is being undertaken pursuant to this Assessment Plan.

The objective of the proposed Study is to estimate abundance and density of mink in areas within the Upper Hudson River drainage, where elevated levels of PCBs have been found, and to compare that with estimated mink abundance and density in an uncontaminated, reference river drainage, in this case, the Mohawk River. No mink will be killed, trapped or adversely affected in the Study. After the Study is completed, the results will be peer reviewed and then publicly released.

The deadline for submitting written comments on the Draft Mink Injury Study Plan is Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Comments received during the open public comment period and the trustees’ responses to these comments will be included in a Responsiveness Summary to be released in the future.

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