Learning About the Problem of PCBs

Apr 8, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding a series of workshops this week on the human health risks of PCBs in the Housatonic River and the different approaches to cleaning them up. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports.

Before the mid-1970s, when polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs were deemed toxic and banned by Congress, the chemical compound was commonly used in manufacturing. General Electric used PCBs when it made electrical transformers at its former plant on the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

G.E. and the EPA have cleaned up PCBs from the first two miles of the river, south of Pittsfield. Now the EPA is getting ready to respond to a General Electric study that outlines different ways to clean up the river. The EPA is holding workshops for citizens this week to explain what the agency’s criteria are for the clean up. Jim Murphy of the E.P.A. says the agency also wants to get ideas from citizens.

“They are actually going to be able to influence our decision. You know we haven’t made our decision yet. We haven’t assembled what we think is the best alternative. So we are really listening to people so this is an opportunity.”

The E.P.A. is also holding an all day meeting in early May when citizens will be asked to hammer out ideas on the best way to clean up the Housatonic river.

For information on meetings on the Housatonic River clean-up click here http://www.epa.gov/region01/ge/publiceventsandmeetings.html