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Riverkeeper Steps Up Campaign Against General Electric (PR Newswire) ... can produce serious and irreversible injury to the brain....... pollutants are linked to developmental defects of cancer and other grave problems in humans and animals.... - Jul 19 8:54 AM ET


Posted on: 07/19/2001

"Yahoo - Riverkeeper Steps Up Campaign Against General Electric"
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Thursday July 19, 8:55 am Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: Riverkeeper

Riverkeeper Steps Up Campaign Against General Electric

New Advertisements Highlight Adverse Human Health Effects of PCBs and Call on Jack Welch to Cleanup the Hudson River

NEW YORK, July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to counteract the General Electric Company's multi-million dollar public relations campaign against dredging the Hudson River, Riverkeeper has launched high-profile advertisements in New York aimed at focusing public attention on the serious human health risks associated with exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

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    One of the advertisements, now displayed on telephone kiosks around Manhattan, depicts a pregnant woman and her son catching a PCB-contaminated fish from the Hudson River. The advertisement graphically illustrates how PCBs migrate up the food chain, ultimately affecting human health, particularly that of women and children.

    Hudson Riverkeeper Alex Matthiessen said, "GE has spent enormous sums of money trying to convince the public that PCBs aren't dangerous. Our ads are meant to reinforce what the medical community has already confirmed: that PCBs pose serious health risks to humans -- risks that will continue to plague the residents of the Hudson Valley so long as GE's PCBs are allowed to poison our River."

    The other advertisement, a billboard which appears on the West Side Highway at 50th Street, is a challenge to GE CEO Jack Welch to clean up the toxic chemicals his company wantonly dumped in the Hudson River over a thirty-year period ending in 1977. The message, white text over a black background, reads: "What's More Toxic? GE's Lies or GE's PCBs? People Are Dying to Find Out. Clean up the Hudson, Jack."

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Riverkeeper's Chief Prosecuting Attorney said, "General Electric intentionally dumped PCBs into the Hudson River for thirty years despite having known since as early as the 1950s that PCBs are highly toxic and that the company was endangering people's lives. The science is clear and the public overwhelmingly supports a cleanup. It's time for Jack Welch and GE to take responsibility for the mess they made."

    Health Effects

    In addition to being known carcinogens, PCBs are linked with developmental and reproductive abnormalities, endocrine disruption, neurological dysfunction, and compromised immune systems. The harms associated with PCB exposure are greatest for the developing fetus and growing child. Because PCBs are stored in fat, they often pass from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy, the most critical period of human development. PCBs cross the placenta from mother to baby, and exposure in the womb to chemicals such as PCBs can produce serious and irreversible injury to the brain. For the developing infant, PCBs are passed through breast milk and stored in the developing child's body. The long-term consequences of both paths of exposure include reduced intelligence, slowed learning and impaired reflexes.

    Even President Bush, generally skeptical of environmental threats, said that "concerns over the hazards of PCBs ... are based on solid scientific information. These pollutants are linked to developmental defects of cancer and other grave problems in humans and animals. The risks are great and the need for action is clear: We must work to eliminate or at least to severely restrict the release of these toxins without delay."


    From 1947 to 1977, General Electric dumped over 1.3 million pounds of PCBs from its Hudson Falls and Ft. Edwards capacitor manufacturing facilities into the Hudson River. After conducting a ten-year assessment, the EPA concluded that GE's PCBs continue to pose serious threats to human health and the environment and that a cleanup is necessary to remove that threat. In December of last year, the agency issued a preliminary decision ordering General Electric to remediate PCB hotspots in a forty-mile stretch of the River north of the Federal Dam at Troy. After an extensive public review and comment period, the EPA is due to issue its final decision regarding the cleanup in September. The EPA's cleanup plan has the support of Governor Pataki, Attorney General Spitzer, nearly the entire Congressional delegation from New York and New Jersey, and 84% of Hudson Valley residents.

    Riverkeeper is a not-for-profit environmental organization that uses law and science to protect the Hudson River, its tributaries, and the New York City water supply watershed. Riverkeeper's ad campaign is part of a larger effort by Friends of a Clean Hudson, a coalition of national, state and regional organizations fighting for the restoration of the Hudson River through the aggressive removal of PCB-contaminated sediments. The coalition comprises: the Appalachian Mountain Club, Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation, Coast Alliance, Environmental Advocates, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York Rivers United, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, Inc., Sierra Club.

    SOURCE: Riverkeeper

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