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November 9, 2000

At Waryas Park on the Hudson River waterfront in Poughkeepsie, the Vassar Greens hosted one of 41 simultaneous vigils urging the removal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from the river. Banned in the United States in 1977, the carcinogenic chemical had been allowed to enter the Hudson since 1947 by General Electric (GE) plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, NY, and in 1983 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared some 200 miles of the river between Hudson Falls and New York City eligible for “Superfund” remediation under the 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The vigils were prompted by the imminent release of an EPA report determining the degree of PCB contamination in the site and recommending a remediation process. Vassar Greens co-founder and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater environmental intern Michelle Sargent ’01 told The Miscellany News, “A vigil is a place to contemplate or mourn something, and the fact that we have waited 20 years for the EPA to come out with a report including recommendation for action to clean up the river is a tragedy.”

The EPA report, released on December 7, ordered GE to develop and undertake a cleanup plan for the site. The resulting project—of which Phase One was completed in October 2009—was expected to cost the company nearly $500 million.

The Years