housmapfull-800Q: What are PCBs?

A: PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are a class of compounds consisting of 209 individual compounds. PCBs were widely used as a fire preventive and insulator in the manufacture of transformers, capacitors and other products because of their ability to withstand exceptionally high temperatures.

Q: Will GE undertake whatever clean-up work EPA selects for the Rest of River?

A: It would be premature to make a commitment to implement a remedy until the remedy has been selected. However, we hope to reach an agreement with EPA that balances the interests and concerns of all stakeholders.

Q: Does GE think PCBs in the Housatonic sediments and floodplain should be removed?

A: No. GE has concluded that monitored natural recovery — where naturally occurring processes in the river reduce the bioavailability or toxicity of PCBs in the river — is the right answer for the Rest of River.

Q: Where are most of the PCBs in the Housatonic River?

A: A significant mass of PCBs has already been removed from a two-mile stretch of river located upstream of the confluence of the east and west branches of the river. South of the confluence, GE estimates that between 12,800 and 70,000 pounds of PCBs are present in the sediments. The vast majority of these PCBs are located between the confluence and Woods Pond between Lee and Lenox.

Q: Does GE believe the PCBs in river sediments and floodplain pose a threat to wildlife?

A: No. However, many of the clean-up options approved by EPA for consideration in the Housatonic could cause severe and irreparable damage to the river’s unique ecosystem.

Q: What is the status of GE’s on-site cleanup?

A: Under the Consent Decree approved in 2000, GE conducted a series of comprehensive investigations at the GE plant, the former oxbow areas, other adjacent areas and the floodplain properties adjacent to the river and upstream of the confluence. GE conducted all clean-up work associated with these investigations, including installation of groundwater and oil recovery systems and containment barriers at and near the GE plant to prevent or control migration of PCBs in oil and groundwater to the river.

Q: How can I get more information?

A: If you would like to speak to one of our community representatives, contact us via e-mail at info@housatonicoptions.com. EPA provides information about the Housatonic River at www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html. (You will be leaving this site.)

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