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Case: GE Housatonic, CT

Site history: Between 1932 and 1977 General Electric Company (GE) used Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its Pittsfield, Massachussetts facility. PCBs were released into the Housatonic River from the GE facility and related properties, which comprise the cleanup site.

Location: From the GE facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts into Connecticut along the Housatonic River watershed to Long Island Sound.


Case status:NOAA and its co-trustees from USFWS and CT addressed public comments and released a Final Amendment to the Housatonic River Basin Restoration Plan. This Amendment highlights aquatic restoration because the original 2009 Restoration Plan primarily focused on Recreational and Riparian Restoration. The Trustees are preparing to implement the aquatic restoration projects outlined in this final amendment.

Overview: The General Electric (GE) Housatonic River Site is located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, extending along the river from the GE facility in Pittsfield into Connecticut. The cleanup site consists of waste sources at the GE facility in Pittsfield and other areas in Pittsfield where PCB wastes from the GE facility have been disposed, as well as sediment and water contaminated by the migration of PCBs via the Housatonic River. The presence of PCB contamination in river sediments, soils and groundwater has been documented through a series of investigations, spanning two decades, conducted by GE, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 1982, the MA DEP ordered the Housatonic River closed to all but catch and release fishing from Dalton to the Connecticut border as a result of PCB contamination in river sediments and fish tissues. PCBs may have reached anadromous fish and estuarine species well downstream of the cleanup site. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health investigated concerns expressed by local residents regarding possible health effects resulting from exposure to PCB contamination. The Connecticut Department of Health has fish consumption advisories along the entire Housatonic River in CT due to body residue PCBs.

In 1997, General Electric, the City of Pittsfield, the United States Government, the State of Connecticut and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts entered into negotiations with the goal of achieving a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding environmental issues, including remedial action and natural resource damages. A tentative agreement was reached in September 1998. That agreement was translated into a Consent Decree, which was approved in October 2000.

Pursuant to the requirements of the Consent Decree, General Electric has paid over $15 million in natural resource damages. This sum has been divided between Connecticut and Massachusetts so that roughly half of the $15 million will be available for restoration projects in each state. These funds have been deposited into interest-bearing accounts held in trust by the Department of the Interior on behalf of all of the Trustees.

In order to implement natural resource restoration projects in Connecticut, a draft restoration plan (DARP/EA) was developed by the Connecticut SubCouncil (composed of representatives from the State of Connecticut, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and NOAA) for the Natural Resource Trustees. In the draft plan, the Trustees presented their evaluation of numerous restoration projects, explaining the rationale behind their preferred restoration alternatives intended to compensate the public for natural resource injuries. In 2009, the Trustees finalized and released the Housatonic River Basin Natural Resource Damages Final Restoration Plan Linking to a non-federal government web site.This link does not imply endorsement. outlining restoration projects that would be undertaken to restore injured resources of the GE Housatonic River Site.

The restoration identified in the 2009 Final Restoration Plan has been funded and is currently being implemented, with the exception of one of the originally selected aquatic projects (Blackberry River Fish Passage Restoration). The remaining settlement funds (and interest earned from the original settlement) were reserved for Aquatic Restoration. In 2013, the Trustees released the Final Amendment to the Restoration Plan which details the preferred aquatic restoration projects and incorporates comments received during the public comment period. More detail on the Amendment is available on the CT DEEP website.Linking to a non-federal government web site.This link does not imply endorsement. 

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