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Message From The Mayor: Hastings Waterfront Cleanup Progresses

Mayor Peter Swiderski announces the signing of a Consent Order to clean up the waterfront.
Mayor Peter Swiderski announces the signing of a Consent Order to clean up the waterfront. Photo Credit: File

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Fellow Residents;

After four years of negotiation between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and BP, the two parties have finally signed what is known as a Consent Order (a copy here). 

This completes the long process of the New York State DEC defining the degree of clean-up of both the off-shore portion (known as “OU2” and the clean-up is defined here) and land portion (known as “OU1” and the clean-up is defined here). 

This is a milestone moment for the Village – New York State has finished determining how far the clean up needs to go and documenting the process BP must follow to describe and then carry out the remediation.

We are dubiously privileged to boast one of the most contaminated sites in the Northeast. In its industrial heyday, the factories on our waterfront literally invented the practical use of PCBs for wire insulation and other uses - a dubious honor that left swaths of the property contaminated beyond reason. 

We can boast unique varieties of PCBs not found anywhere else in the country - and BP (who had bought a company, Arco, that had in turn bought the original company, Anaconda that caused the pollution) has inherited the full responsibility to clean it all up.  Some of our soil is contaminated literally hundreds of thousands of times beyond the acceptable standard, and the effort over the last few years has been to figure out to what standard and generally how it needed to be cleaned.

The DEC moved slowly and deliberately. They wanted to make sure that the dictats they set down made sense, from both an economic and scientific point of view.  They required BP to carry out what seemed endless studies and samplings so the DEC had the data it needed to complete its determinations. 

The clean-up, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, will take several years once it begins.  The next steps to get us to this clean-up will involve the following:

Renegotiate the Consent Decree

Through the OU1 and OU2 documents, the State has described the clean-up standard it expects BP to fulfill.  There is another standard that BP is obligated to meet as well, and that is embodied in something called the Consent Decree. That was agreed upon between BP, Hastings, and the non-profit Riverkeeper back in 2003, setting a clean-up standard for the on-shore portion of the property. 

The Decree will need to be revisited by all parties and renegotiated to reflect the new realities of the DEC requirements.  For example, back in 2003, the Consent Decree envisioned a bulkhead edge to the waterfront. DEC now envisions a slope that descends into the water.  These (and other) differences will have to be reconciled.  We will seek to do so expeditiously.

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