Investor Advocates for Social Justice

Tri-CRI Letter Calls on GE to Complete Cleanup of the Hudson River

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On August 21, the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment sent a letter to General Electric urging the company to fully complete the cleanup of the Hudson River:

“As shareholders in GE, our Coalition has long been involved in encouraging our company to take full and complete responsibility for the contamination caused by the disposal into the Hudson River of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were used at the Fort Edward and Hudson Falls plants until 1977. In addition to our concerns about the impact of the PCB contamination and thorough cleanup on our company’s long-term value, we raise these issues due tot he grave effects they have had on communities along the Hudson River, whose health and well-being have been negatively impacted, along with the economic vitality of the entire Hudson Valley region, ecosystem, and waterway.”

Tri-CRI’s letter adds to a growing chorus of calls from community and environmental stakeholders along the Hudson, including the Campaign for a Cleaner Hudson which hailed the Coalition’s letter, as GE has begun to dismantle the Fort Edward PCB Processing Plant.

Although GE will soon complete the dredging required by a 2002 agreement between the Company and the EPA, as Tri-CRI’s letter states “subsequent studies by the Federal Natural Resources Damages Trustees and EPA indicate that there is still much to be done.”  This echoes a letter from 25 New York state senators which notes with concern the “reports from federal, state and independent natural resource scientists indicating that significant PCB ‘hot spots’ will remain after the company’s dredging operations shut down later this year.”

In light of these reports and the imminent end of GE’s existing dredging activities, Tri-CRI’s letter urges the company to “enter into a voluntary agreement with state and federal authorities to complete a more extensive cleanup and restoration of the 40 mile stretch in the Upper Hudson.”

The letter notes with concern the financial, legal and reputational risks to GE of failing to take full responsibility for the cleanup of the Hudson.  As quoted in the Albany Times Union, Tri-CRI member Cathy Rowan, coordinator of Corporate Responsibility for the Maryknoll Sisters, stated “We think it is important for other investors to know that GE is facing this [reputational] risk.”

The full letter of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment to GE is available.

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