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Environmental Groups Disappointed By Housatonic River Ruling

A stretch of the Housatonic River.
Nancy Eve Cohen
/
NEPM
A stretch of the Housatonic River that under an EPA proposal would be dredged to remove PCBs.

Two environmental advocacy groups said they are disappointed by an Environmental Protection Agency appeals board decision about the latest phase of cleaning up the Housatonic River.

The appeals board late last week upheld most of the agency's plans for the so-called "Rest of the River" project.

General Electric, which polluted the river with PCBs decades ago, had appealed large portions of the proposal.

And the Housatonic River Initiative had been pushing the board for a more stringent clean-up. Tim Gray, who heads the river group, said Monday they are considering filing another appeal -- this time in federal court.

"We're kind of saddened that the EPA permit may stand as it is because they're leaving large amounts of PCBs in the river, which -- to us -- means that the river may stay contaminated forever," Gray said.

Another environmental group, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, is unlikely to sue, according to executive director Jane Winn. Still, Winn said she was "disappointed but not surprised" by the appeals board's decision. 

The appeals board did ask the EPA to revisit where PCB-laden materials would be disposed of. Environmentalists and the EPA want them shipped out of state, while GE wants to bury the material in Berkshire County.

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