20090515 hudson ge 18
The old Hudson Falls General Electric Plant on the banks of the Hudson River, near Glen Falls, N.Y. - 



It's been a couple of decades of arguments and lawsuits, but today General Electric begins dredging the upper part of New York's Hudson River. In 2002 the Environmental Protection Agency ordered GE to clear the river of toxic chemicals called Polychlorinated Biphenyls. Those are dangerous PCBs to you and me. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: GE admitted polluting the Hudson for 30 years, but said it was perfectly legal at the time. Now the company is about to spend $780 million cleaning the river up. Manna Jo Greene is environmental director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

MANNA JO GREENE: I really want to commend General Electric, the treatment facility they have built is state-of-the-art, it has very high safety standards.

GE will separate the PCBs from river sediment in enclosed space so no chemicals escape into the air. Greene says a change at the top has helped this project get underway.

GREENE: From Jack Welch who absolutely felt that GE was not responsible and in fact it was not a problem, to Jeffrey Immelt with his "Eco Imagination."

Greene says the full dredging project will take six to ten years. But she says it'll be a few generations before fish from that part of the river are safe to eat.

I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.