Environmental groups and Democratic legislators are pressuring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to say that General Electric must continue cleaning up the massive pollution the company dumped into the Hudson River over decades during the 20th century. Cuomo’s own environmental officials say the pollution continues to cause “ongoing contamination,” and federal officials warn that GE’s plan to end its cleanup this fall could harm the effort to restore the river’s ecosystem.
But the Democratic governor — who has benefited from GE’s campaign cash — is declining to say whether he agrees.
In comments to reporters in Albany on Thursday, the governor said he thinks the company should “follow the law and the agreements that have been made.” Under the 2002 agreement in question, GE is planning to shut down its cleanup operations at the end of 2015 — which, environmental groups claim, will leave behind at least 35 percent of the carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) the company dumped into the river during the mid-20th century.
“I know there are claims for [GE] to do more above and beyond that,” Cuomo said of the request by legislators and environmental groups. But, he added, “I haven’t really looked into that.”
Conservation groups said that unless Cuomo takes action, the cleanup of one of the nation’s largest environmental disasters will end prematurely, leaving carcinogenic PCBs in New York’s largest waterway.