The Saratoga County Water Authority has sued General Electric Co. in federal court to recover $27 million it claims it spent to avoid PCBs in the Hudson River.
The SCWA claims in the suit that it would have spent less if it had been able to locate its Hudson River pumping station closer to the county’s southern population centers instead of in the town of Moreau at the northern end of the county.
“As prudent government officials they had to take into account what the effects of GE’s PCB contamination might be,” Donald W. Boyajian of Dreyer, Boyajian, the authority’s law firm, said Thursday.
The legal papers cite SWCA as spending at least $62 million on the water system, including $27 million for the water treatment plant in Moreau and $35 million to build the pipelines to carry water south.
This is the fourth lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against GE by a municipality drawing water from the river. The other lawsuits were brought by the towns of Waterford, Halfmoon and Stillwater.
In a statement Thursday, GE said avoiding PCBs was not the reason county officials built the water treatment plant in Moreau.
GE said that the location was selected to provide “a plentiful water source in the northern part of the county, where future residential and commercial growth was anticipated;” the county owned the water plant site; and that the location was picked before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided to dredge the PCB-contaminated river bottom.
“If, as the complaint states, county officials chose not to locate a water intake further south due to the presence of PCBs in the river, this was a decision not based on sound science,” the GE statement says.
Boyajian dismissed GE’s contentions about the decision to build in Moreau. He emphasized that a site closer to the county’s population centers would have been preferred but officials were deeply worried about the impact of PCBs in drinking water supplies.
GE stated that PCB levels in the river “have been consistently below federal drinking water standards.”
PCBS — polychlorinated biphenyls, a suspected carcinogen — contaminated the river when they were dumped from GE plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward.
Tapping into the Hudson River to supply a countywide water system was long discussed and was a political issue. In 2002, engineering firm Clough, Harbour recommended the county continue to use the 1990 Intermunicipal Water Supply Study Master Plan and 1995 Updated Master Plan.
“The original 1990 study recommended the phased implementation of a county-wide water system using the Upper Hudson River as the county’s main raw water source,” the Clough, Harbour study stated.
That occurred as county Republicans fought with Saratoga Springs Democrats over plans to use Saratoga Lake as a city water supply.
The development of the Luther Forest Technology Campus added to the push of a county water program to supply water needed in computer chip manufacturing. GlobalFoundries is now building a computer chip factory at the campus.
Taken from timesunion.com