The Hudson River Dredging Project

Lock 5 on the Hudson River just north of Schuylerville

Lock 5 on the Hudson River just north of Schuylerville

General Electric is about to begin one of the largest environmental cleanups in the history of the United States. Beginning in May, GE is going to dredge the Hudson River in Fort Edward, New York to cleanup PCBs in the river bottom. Eventually, 40 miles of the river will be dredged from Hudson Falls south to Troy, NY.  I live in Washington County, New York, just across the river from Schuylerville. I am 13 miles south of where the dredging will begin.

There are half a dozen “hot spots” where dredging will occur within a short distance of my house. They won’t be touched until Phase 2. The area around Fort Edward will be dredged this year in Phase 1. There will then be a review process of what was completed. Phase 2 dredging should continue in the spring of 2010. It could take 5 years before all of the dredging is completed.

It still amazes me that GE dumped the PCBs into the river in the first place. A lot of smart people work for GE. I read somewhere that the GE research center in Niskayuna, New York (near Schenectady), has more Phds. than anywhere else in the world. Someone at GE should have known that discharging this stuff into the Hudson River was a very bad idea, even in the 1940s. If not the 40s, than at least the 1960s.  I don’t care if it was legal or illegal. I don’t care if they had a permit or they didn’t have a permit. It was stupid and irresponsible and they should have known better.

Common sense should tell you that you shouldn’t dump this stuff into the river. Now they have to spend millions of dollars to clean it up. It would have been much smarter to either say that we shouldn’t manufacture this stuff in the first place because it is too dangerous or we have to figure out a safe way to dispose of it before we start making it.

GE started dumping polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River in the 1940s and continued to do so until 1977. I  was trying to find out why GE eventually stopped dumping PCB’s in 1977 when I ran across this 2001 article by Charlie Cray called, Toxics on the Hudson: The Saga of GE, PCBs and the Hudson River. GE stopped discharging PCBs into the river  because they were banned by federal law. The United States Congress banned the manufacture of PCB’s in 1976 when they passed the The Toxic Substances Control Act.

PCBs  are bad for you. They are the reason that you can’t eat fish from the Hudson. You can catch fish in the Hudson, but you must release them right away.

The Environmental Protection Agency has an entire section of its website devoted to Hudson River PCBs.

GE has a website with all kinds of detailed information about the project,

The Hudson River is beautiful in this area. It should be as clean as it looks. What do you think?

Schuylerville School Superintendent

Schuylerville School Sign

Schuylerville School Sign

It’s ridiculous that the Schuylerville School system pays its superintendent $169,487 per year plus $71,537 in benefits. It’s a small district with 1,862 students. It has one elementary school and one junior-senior high school. I hope that whoever negotiates the salary and benefits for the new superintendent thinks long and hard about the taxpayers in the Village of Schuylerville, Village of Victory, Town of Saratoga, Town of Easton, Town of Greenwich and the Town of Northumberland who have to pay the bills. I wonder how many taxpayers in the area actually know how much the superintendent is paid?

A Daily Gazette newspaper article on March 26, 2009, said that the outgoing superintendent, Leon Reed, “was listed as having  the largest compensation package of any public school superintendent in a survey of 91 school districts in an 11-county area, according to a Business Review report in September.” You can read the entire Daily Gazette article here.

You can go to the University of the State of New York’s State Education Department website (NYSED) and compare salaries of school superintendents across the state. It’s too bad the report doesn’t tell you the size of the school district.

Read an article by the chairman of the NYS Commission on Property Tax Relief, Thomas Suozzi. This article originally appeared in the Saratogian in January. It’s called, “Streamline Education Through Consolidation.”  It recommends consolidating the administration of small districts with less than 1000 students.  It’s well worth reading and it will take you less than ten minutes.

The actual report that the article references says: “Require consolidation of school districts with fewer than 1,000 students and grant the Commissioner of Education discretionary authority to order consolidation of school districts with fewer than 2,000 pupils to achieve economies of scale and to increase educational opportunities through expanded course offerings.”

It’s your money. Take some time and read the report by the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. It explains in detail the 32 recommendations mentioned in Thomas Suozzi’s article above.

You can also read an earlier post that I wrote called, “Why Are Property Taxes in New York So High?”

The times, they are a changin’. There must be a more cost efficient way to give our children an excellent education.

I would like to know what you think. Leave a comment or send me an email.

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