Friday, February 17, 2012

Déjà Vu All Over Again

The Register-Star reports today that the Department of Environmental Conservation has ordered National Grid to remove 9,000 cubic yards of coal tar from Hudson's waterfront: "DEC plans hearing on site's cleanup." 

Didn't this happen a decade ago? The picture below, taken by Peter Jung, shows the tent erected over the cleanup site in the early part of this century.

This time the cleanup site is underwater, in the area of the city dock and the entrances to the first two embayments. 

A public hearing on the project will take place on February 28 at 6 p.m. at the Hudson Area Library. The public comment period, during which DEC accepts written comments, begins today and runs through March 19.  


  1. The previous waterfront remediation was before my time (ca. 2004), but the pattern for use of the causeway as a road was definitely established then as a means to remove toxic materials from the city. At any rate that is Holcim's side of the story and it seems accurate.

    Can anyone recall who was behind the argument for using the causeway during the previous remediation? Was it the far-seeing St. Lawrence Cement company itself (since renamed 'Holcim')?

    We should know our history so that something like that doesn't happen again. Imagine how things might have turned out if the causeway was never revived as a road after the 1970s.

  2. I think it may have been Rick Scalera's idea to use the causeway. After all, toxic material had to be hauled away from the waterfront, and an alternative was needed to trucking it over city streets. Of course, SLC was more than happy to oblige.

    Anyone who has other information, please weigh in.

  3. But was an alternative truly required for removing the remediation waste via city streets?

    Depending on the trucks that were used, and assuming that such equipment was state of the art, I'd be willing to bet that someone made political hay out of the matter, unintended consequences be damned (i.e., causeway-as-road).

    You see the same types lining up already in this Register Star piece - the great eco-politicians of Hudson who nevertheless did not observe SEQRA and cheated the public and real ecologists out of a voice.

    It is of the utmost importance to chart and document these histories. I hope that someone can remember all the way back to 2004.

  4. I think it was Charlie Butterworth, Superintendent of Public Works, who advocated for using the causeway. --Ellen

  5. A little time in the Register Star archives turned up the following from 8 May 2004, about efforts to establish a road in the South Bay by offering false choices (re: waterfront remediation).

    The formula of false alternatives worked beautifully, just like "divide and conquer." Add in a goodly amount of cheating and anything can be accomplished by any municipality.

    Interestingly, the same alternative for the remediation which was recommended by FoH at the time was none other than the LB parking lot.

    The more things change ....

    "HUDSON -- Friends of Hudson is demanding that the state order St. Lawrence Cement to stop making improvements to an access path the city wants to use to haul contaminated soil out of Hudson.

    "The group, which stands in opposition to St. Lawrence's plans to construct a new $320 million cement manufacturing facility in Hudson and Greenport, is arguing that the work on the company-owned haul road is an attempt by the cement company to transform a wetland into a heavy industrial corridor.

    "But Hudson Mayor Richard Scalera is firing back, saying Friends of Hudson, because it is "so blinded by hatred and bias toward St. Lawrence," has offered "a ridiculous alternative" to the path and would have the city jeopardize the health and welfare of city residents.

    "Scalera said he is sure that if the access path didn't belong to St. Lawrence, Friends of Hudson members would be the first ones calling on the city to use that route to avoid bringing contaminated soils through the city. ...

    "'Ideally, temporary traffic from the waterfront remediation should not travel through Hudson's streets. But the city has presented a false choice -- either send this through a wetland, or through the streets -- when it has better and more obvious options,' [Sam] Pratt said."

  6. 1. Common Council Minutes, May 18, 2004:

    ”[DPW Supt. Butterworth] said the NIMO clean-up was progressing. .... When removing the contaminated material the trucks will be using the St.Lawrence access road and that will keep the trucks out of the City. He didn’t see any problem with using that road.";/content/Minutes/View/49:field=documents;/content/Documents/File/49.pdf

    2. CC Minutes, July 20, 2004:

    “[Mr. Butterworth] said that the clean-up at the waterfront was going good. Sheet piling was in ... We are still waiting for clearance to use the St. Lawrence access road.";/content/Minutes/View/52:field=documents;/content/Documents/File/52.pdf

    3. CC Minutes, August 17, 2004:

    “[Supt. Butterworth] stated that the Ni-mo clean up was going well, and that they were going to be able to use the St. Lawrence access road to haul away the material from the site.”;/content/Minutes/View/53:field=documents;/content/Documents/File/53.pdf

    Register Star (6 Oct 2004):

    "HUDSON -- On Monday, trucks began hauling contaminated material from the city's waterfront across wetland property owned by St. Lawrence Cement and on to North Adams, Mass. for disposal.

    "Hudson officials have sought to remove the material from the waterfront without using city streets. ...

    "Some time back, Mayor Richard Scalera asked SLC officials if NiMo and its contractors could use the road across the South Bay -- connecting Third Street/Route 9G with the waterfront. SLC agreed.

    "Friends of Hudson opposed the wetland route to remove the contaminated soil from the city and sought alternative routes. ...

    "Work on the road was halted pending a decision by state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on whether the work was impacting on the South Bay wetlands.

    "It was, and SLC was ordered to stop work and remediate any impact on the wetlands.

    "Members of the Common Council chastised FOH at the time."