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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: General Electric - Fort Edward in Fort Edward, New York

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status 

PCB use in capacitors was discontinued in 1977, and the plant has also eliminated its use of organic solvents in recent years. At New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) direction, GE has implemented a number of remedial measures since 1984 to prevent soil and groundwater contamination from spreading to areas adjacent to the site. On-site and off-site groundwater recovery and treatment systems were constructed. These systems have been expanded several times since they began operating. The operation of these systems is still ongoing. Water is treated at the facility's treatment plant to remove contaminants and then discharged to the Hudson River. The groundwater plume has been reduced in area since these treatment systems began operating, to less than 50 percent of its original size, and contaminant concentrations have diminished considerably as well.

To prevent further releases of PCBs to the Hudson River from the river bank material, NYSDEC is implementing the remedy selected in the NYSDEC Record of Decision. This remedy consists of the removal and offsite disposal of about 8,700 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated material from the reach of river bank extending from the former outfall location downstream approximately 1,350 linear feet. This material, which will be disposed of off-site, was contaminated primarily by wastewater discharged from the plant during manufacturing operations.

A major source of PCB contamination on site is located under the parking lot, where there is a large pool of PCB oil. 

Site Description

This 32-acre General Electric (GE) facility is located approximately 800 feet east of the Hudson River between the Villages of Fort Edward to the south and Hudson Falls to the north. A 200-foot-wide parcel west of the main portion of the site, between Allen Street and the Hudson River, is also part of the site. Mixed residential and commercial areas border the facility to the north, south and east. The area to the west of the facility is primarily residential, with the Hudson River beyond the residences. The facility manufactured motors between 1942 and 1946, and subsequently has made small and large industrial capacitors.

Contaminants at this Facility

Among the products used in various operations were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated and non-chlorinated organic solvents, and kerosene. As a result of operations at the facility, there are elevated levels of kerosene constituents and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the soil gas at portions of the site, and soil and groundwater samples containing VOCs, kerosene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). There is a reservoir of PCB oil in the area of the parking lot.

Soil along the eastern bank of the Hudson River has been found to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) with some additional volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. PCB contamination was found in areas that were previously at or below the water level when the former Fort Edward Dam was still in place (pre-1973). Discharge from Outfall 004 resulted in releases of PCBs directly to the Hudson River, which have contaminated sediments downstream from the facility. EPA selected, in the February 1, 2002 Record of Decision for the Hudson River PCBs Site, the targeted dredging of PCB contaminated sediments in the upper Hudson River. The dredging of the Hudson River is being addressed by the EPA's Superfund program, and the river and its sediments are considered a separate site.

Presently, the following institutional controls are in place to prevent human exposures: an advisory against all consumption of fish from the Hudson River between Hudson Falls and Troy; additional species-specific and consumer-specific advisories against consumption of fish between Troy and New York City; and enforcement of a catch-and-release only fishery between Hudson Falls and Troy. GE has an ongoing private well monitoring program, and every resident whose well water has shown contamination has been offered the opportunity to be connected to a municipal water supply, with the cost paid by GE. Residents who have not switched to municipal water are annually notified of the potential risks and offered the municipal water connection. Finally, the entire site is fenced, with security guards on site to prevent trespasser access.

The possibility of vapor intrusion from volatile chemicals in the groundwater plume, entering facility buildings or local residences, has not been fully investigated at this time. 

Site Responsibility at this Facility

This site is on the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites (Site No. 5-58-004) and the State is working with GE to complete Corrective Action through issuance of a New York State Part 373 operating permit as well as under New York State Order on Consent, Index #A5-0316-94-06. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued a sitewide Record of Decision on January 28, 2000, based upon a Remedial Investigation conducted at the site between the years 1995-97.

The facility currently has a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit, issued in 1994, and has received approval for certification of closure of a storage area. Current discharges to the Hudson River are regulated under a New York State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit.