WASHINGTON -- Federal authorities and
The deal was announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which filed a consent decree in federal court in Albany, N.Y.
The Hudson River dredging project, estimated to cost about $500 million, had been delayed by the EPA, which cited the complexity of the project to remove toxic PCBs from the riverbed.
In recent months, environmental groups have accused GE of stalling on the plan to try to evade the high costs of the cleanup project.
The dredging is now scheduled to begin in spring 2007, and the pact reached yesterday calls for GE to pay the government up to $78 million for past and future costs. The company has already paid about $37 million.
''This is an historic agreement that commits GE to begin dredging the Hudson River," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said.
Christian Ballantine of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter said the consent order was a partial but important victory for their cleanup efforts.
''The environmental community wanted GE to finally accept responsibility and put their corporate know-how to work," Ballantine said.
Under the terms of the agreement, GE will construct the sediment facility needed for the project and perform the first phase of dredging.
The company said in a statement that the deal shows it is committed to working with environmental regulators and the state. GE plans to build a terminal for the sediment facility in order to move up to 250 railcars full of sediment a week.
The deal also calls for a scientific review after the first phase is completed, after which GE will decide whether it will perform the second phase.
The EPA said the total estimated cost of the first phase and building the sediment facility is between $100 million and $150 million.
The EPA seeks to dredge about 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment.