The Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) project is moving along ahead of schedule with help from the summer’s good weather. This update on the progress of the CHPE project appeared in The Glens Falls Post Star online edition Poststar.com. Learn more about the CHPE, Click Here.
FORT EDWARD – This year’s Hudson River dredging project is well on its way to accomplishing — and perhaps exceeding — the goal for the season, after weather delays affected the first two years of dredging.
“Thus far, it’s been a terrific summer in terms of productivity,” said General Electric spokesman Mark Behan, of Behan Communications. “And we have more than two months of dredging still ahead.”
For GE, the goal is to meet the dredging standards set out by the Environmental Protection Agency, and exceed them if possible, Behan said.
GE for years in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls dumped polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into the river before the substances were deemed harmful. GE is now conducting a multi-year cleanup under the EPA’s direction, to remove PCB-contaminated sediment from the bottom of the river.
This year, the goal is to dredge 350,000 cubic yards, or about 400,000 tons, of sediment from the river. As of July 21, 230,000 cubic yards had already been dredged. Last year, the dredging season lasted through early November.
Some increased production was expected this year, because of facility improvements made during the off-season. While the goal is dredging 350,000 cubic yards this year, project officials said late last year that, with the addition of another barge unloading station, as much as 450,000 cubic yards could be dredged.
“We are hopeful GE will exceed the goal, though there are many factors that could impact productivity,” EPA spokeswoman Larisa Romanowski wrote in an email. “Given where we are today, if all goes well, GE will likely exceed the 350,000.”
Factors that could disrupt productivity and are largely beyond the control of project operators, aside from weather, include the shipping of sediment off-site by train and the canal system, because dredging is dependent on use of the Champlain Canal.
Once the contaminated sediment is removed, it’s loaded onto barges and taken to a processing plant to be treated. It’s then shipped by train to a disposal facility.
Good weather has allowed for the project’s progress this summer, a departure from the weather-related delays in 2009 and 2011, the first two years dredging took place.
Last year, spring flooding meant the dredging season began late, and a rainy summer with high water levels posed challenges and sometimes delayed work. But warm fall weather allowed dredging to continue later in the year, and 363,000 cubic yards, or about 75 acres, were dredged.
This year, water levels are within the predicted range, and haven’t impeded dredging, Behan said.
This is the third year dredging is taking place, and the second year of the project’s second phase. The second phase is expected to last five to seven years.
After this year, it is expected that more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment will have been dredged from the Hudson over the three years. The goal is to dredge roughly 2.5 million cubic yards of sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the river from Fort Edward to Troy.
Once an area is dredged, clean backfill — a mixture of soil and gravel — is laid on the river bed. The material is sourced locally so it’s consistent with the Hudson River watershed, and it becomes the foundation for growth of plant and animal life.
Dredges are currently operating in a part of the river about two miles south of the village of Fort Edward, Behan said.