UPSTATE JOURNAL: A River, Tugboats and a Field of Dreams

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Photo: Bernice Green

By Bernice Elizabeth Green

A week ago (September 8), The New York Times ran a story on G.E.’s dredging of the Hudson River.

The headline read, “G.E. spent years cleaning up the Hudson. Was It Enough?

The article by Jesse McKinley was accompanied by a (May 2015) photograph of a barge “lifting soil to remove PCBS from a Hudson River bank near Troy, N.Y.”

McKinley reported that some area residents believe G.E. has not done enough.

For years the company used the Hudson as a dump site, a toilet, for waste filled with the synthetic chemical, polychemical biphenyls (PCBs) which is used in such products as transformers and other electrical products.

Now it said that in our children’s lifetimes the river may not be as it was before G.E.

Recently, G.E. announced it had done enough, and was moving on.

But New York State is not buying it.

According to The New York Times about 130 acres of underwater sediment “still hold ‘unacceptably high’ levels of PCBs”.

McKinley wrote, “The State said Federal officials had allowed G.E. to declare mission accomplished too soon. Both the amount of sediment and the fish are suggesting that the initial goals of the remedy have not been, and may not be met, for decades.”

Meanwhile, residents in villages located on the banks of the Hudson still behold the beauty of the river from a distance.

Two separate moments last weekend occurring just yards from the River reminded us that doing the right thing is something left up to the people in the final analysis, not so much with huge corporations so far from them.

On Friday, the Tugboat Round-up parading up the Hudson to Watertown captivated a seven-year-old whose home is yards from the Hudson. You met Jasanah in Our Time Press’ October 2015 “Lansingburgh Story”. She appeared as the liveliest of three children at play in fallen leaves near an empty field which will soon hold new homes of vets.

Photo: Jodi Stariknok Groundbreaking for veterans homes.
Photo: Jodi Stariknok
Groundbreaking for veterans homes

The day after Jasanah waved to and cheered tugboat captains, last weekend, Troy officials, broke ground for the long-awaited veterans houses – to be built less than a block from the Hudson. The small ceremony – primarily a photo opportunity captured here by Jasanah’s mother, Jodi – is the beginning of the closing of the loop on the city’s journey (and one of the first in the nation to complete it) to provide a place for every homeless vet in its area.

Jasanah is writing a story on the tugboats and the annual Watertown festival for Our Time Press’s young readers, and interviews are in progress with the construction company that will develop the properties on the bare site, some perhaps with River views.

Jasanah, 7, waves to tugboats on the Hudson Photo: Bernice Green
Jasanah, 7, waves to tugboats on the Hudson Photo: Bernice Green

And for closure on this chapter in our continuing Upstate Journal story, several months ago, Our Time Press’ request for an interview with the CEO of General Electric was at first considered seriously and then turned down flat.

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