April 19, 2023

Senator Warren Seeks Answers From EPA on Housatonic River Site Cleanup

“I remain fully committed to working with federal, state, and local partners to ensure the Housatonic River cleanup is executed in a way that maximizes safety, environmental justice, and community input.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Boston, MA - Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to David W. Cash, Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1, requesting answers about the GE-Pittsfield/Housatonic River Site EPA Cleanup. In October 2016, the EPA issued a final permit decision regarding the “Rest of River” permit, setting the standards for cleaning up the Housatonic River surrounding the GE site. After this final permit decision was appealed by five parties, the EPA convened a stakeholder group that included local governments, environmental organizations and abutters to explore options for an agreeable solution.

“I appreciate the work the EPA team put into bringing these stakeholders together, mediating the negotiations, and ensuring community engagement to hold GE accountable for the cleanup. And I recognize the significant contribution of local officials and community leaders who participated in this extensive process, which resulted in a Settlement Agreement in February 2020 – signed by EPA, GE, the Rest of River Municipal Committee (the Towns of Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, and Sheffield), City of Pittsfield, State of Connecticut, C. Jeffrey Cook, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and Massachusetts Audubon Society – and a final permit decision in March 2022,” wrote the Senator.

“I also believe it is important to make sure local stakeholders continue to be heard by EPA officials and GE as this crucial cleanup work moves forward. In particular, I have heard from the Town of Lee regarding the implementation of this agreement, and want to ensure the community’s concerns are considered in this process,” continued the Senator. 

 In order to better understand the reasoning behind the cleanup plans and the EPA’s strategies for continuing community engagement and stakeholder coordination moving forward, the Senator is asking the EPA to provide answers to the following questions no later than May 3, 2023:

  1. Please describe any recent conversations EPA officials have had with the five towns in
  2. South County regarding cleanup plans.
  3. What risks are posed by further delaying the cleanup and leaving the waste located in the river?
  4. Please describe plans and potential benefits to pumping the waste material to a disposal site as opposed to trucking.
  5. How did EPA come to the decision to move some of the material to a local landfill, versus trucking all of the material to another location?
  6. How does EPA understand and account for the risks of transportation and the resultant carbon emissions in this decision-making?
  7. What measures does EPA have in place to ensure compliance from GE?
  8. How will EPA monitor GE’s compliance with the agreement?
  9. What penalties or other provisions are in place in the event of non-compliance?
  10. How does EPA take environmental justice considerations into account in the planning for the clean-up?
  11. The 2020 Settlement Agreement includes “a commitment to further research on innovative technologies, demonstration efforts and pilot studies.”9 Please describe this component of the 2020 agreement, and EPA’s plans to involve the academic community, stakeholders, and technical experts in the ongoing cleanup process.