GE Brings Dead Things To Life

Breathe Those PCBs

By Daniel Van Riper

World renowned PCB researcher Dr. Brian Bush spoke to a capacity crowd at the Feb. 18, 1998 Save the Pine Bush dinner at 1st Presbyterian Church in Albany. Dr. Bush, who has spent 26 years at the cutting edge of PCB research, recently made national news when he was purged from his State job for political reasons by the Pataki administration. A hastily assembled panel of party hacks pinned a trumped-up charge of "incompetence" on Dr. Bush, while the Pataki regime's allies in the local media, particularly the Hearst-owned Times Union, obediently echoed the false charge without question. This was done, of course, to please the General Electric corporation, which has dumped millions of tons of PCBs into the Hudson River and has refused to clean up their mess, and never will clean it up as long as pro-pollution Pataki occupies the Governor's office.

Sidestepping political discussion, Dr. Bush concentrated on a direct attack on General Electric's propaganda campaign to convince the public that PCBs are harmless. According to Dr. Bush, GE did most of their PCB river dumping in the Thompson Island Pool, which is a part of the Hudson above a dam north of Schuylerville. About one metric ton of PCBs wash over the dam every year, enough to keep the level of PCBs at about 2 to 5 parts per million in the river water, which is the official threshold of human safety. Dr. Bush's big crime is that he discovered -and publicized- that PCBs are evaporating from river mud and becoming airborne, endangering everyone who lives and works along the Hudson, which he called a "250 mile long dump."

GE claims that the Hudson River PCBs will simply sink out of sight and mind if left alone. According to Dr. Bush, this is pure propaganda and has no basis in reality. He pointed out that the sludge in Thompson's Pool is not disappearing, and any major disturbance, such as a flood or a bad storm could wash the PCBs past the dam in large quantities, which would be a massive disaster. The only solution is to begin dredging the river mud immediately, which will remove 90% of the PCBs from the water. Once the mud is out of the river, the PCBs can be quickly destroyed.

This procedure will be expensive, perhaps half a billion dollars. Let us remember, however, that GE is said to be currently worth $246 billion.

PCBs (Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls) have been known to be hazardous since 1937, which makes GE's crime of dumping them in the Hudson particularly vile. According to Dr. Bush, PCBs attack the nervous system, in small quantities causing subtle problems much the way lead does. Also, they most certainly cause cancer, especially breast cancer. The devastation caused to wildlife is incalculable. Dr. Bush told of river snails, which, when placed in tanks of Hudson River water, cannot right themselves after being flipped over because of PCB damage to their nervous systems.

Dr. Bush did not have to file for unemployment. He is back doing PCB research at SUNY, hopefully out of the reach of bottom-feeding politicos.

Printed 3/98


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