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Photo of people in protective clothing March 19, 1999 Sectioning a core sample of soil from near the Housatonic River to test for PCBs.
March 19, 1999: Investigators sectioning a core sample of soil from near the Housatonic River to test for PCBs.; photo courtesy EPA.
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Time running out for public comment on river clean-up

Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) calling on the Berkshire County community for help

March 19, 1999: Investigators sectioning a core sample of soil from near the Housatonic River to test for PCBs.; photo courtesy EPA.

Berkshire County is known for its landscape with rolling hills, lush greenery, and abundant wildlife.  

To enjoy our wildlife to the fullest, we have to do what we can to protect it and keep it safe both ecologically and for human recreation.

In a press release sent by Jane Winn, the Executive Director of Berkshire Environmental Action Team(BEAT), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asks for public opinion on GE’s Revised Pre-Design Investigation Work Plan for Reach 5A Non-Residential Floodplain Exposure.

REVISED-PRE-DESIGN-INVESTIGATION-WORK-PLAN-FOR-REACH-5A-FLOODPLAIN-RESIDENTIAL-PROPERTIES

Reach 5A is defined in the press release stating, “Reach 5A is approximately the first five miles of the “Rest of River”, including the floodplain, but not residential properties, from the Confluence to the Pittsfield Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

“Rest of River” covers nearly 125 miles from the confluence of the East and West Branches of the Housatonic/ Pittsfield River to the end of Reach 16 just before Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

GE is required to conduct additional sampling of floodplain soil to determine the total PCB exposure point concentration for each exposure area. 

Photo of. September 21, 1999 - Algae on river below New Lenox Road at low water
September 21, 1999 – Algae on river below New Lenox Road at low water; photo courtesy EPA.

This Revised Non-Residential Floodplain Pre-Design Investigation (PDI) Work Plan includes a proposal for sampling in the 59+ vernal pools.

Different areas within 5A are classified based on how often people go to that area and how much they might be exposed”. 

The Greylock Glass spoke to Winn about how she founded BEAT and how to improve environmental conservation in the Berkshires. 

Photo of September 21, 1999 - Advisory sign at Woods Pond
September 21, 1999 – Advisory sign at Woods Pond; photo courtesy EPA.

 “I founded BEAT because I saw environmental issues, and I was determined to solve them,” commented Winn.

BEAT has had up to 300 people per year volunteer to help clean up litter along the Housatonic River. 

“The people of Berkshire County really love and appreciate their environment; people have given their time to remove up to one thousand pounds of trash and 36 carts along the river that has been truly amazing,” said Winn.

Community members who do not work directly with the environment don’t know the lasting effects of dirt and pollution on the environment. 

Photo of Tree swallow nest with eggs.
Tree swallow nest with eggs; photo courtesy EPA.

“All human-made products are loaded with all different kinds of chemicals, which can change the PH level in rivers having a major impact on animals such as amphibians.

 We as humans are so dependent on the wildlife and ecosystem, so how we take care of our environment reflects on us humans,” added Winn. 

Kelsey Dumville, a Senior Community Involvement Coordinator for BEAT, explained the need for more awareness and knowledge about the river contamination.  

 Dumville commented, “The people of Berkshire County are truly passionate people, and we would love to spread awareness and gain more education out there, and spread the word about the PCBs and the effects it has.”

Photo of the Housatonic River upstream of New Lenox Road.
July 11, 2000 – Upstream of New Lenox Road; photo courtesy EPA.

To find the full document on the Revised Pre-Design Investigation Work Plan for Reach 5A Non-Residential Floodplain Exposure Areas, go to https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/01/655296

To get to the official EPA webpage, go to www.epa.gov/ge-housatonic 

All documents and resource giving a great overview on the EPA clean up can be found agt this link: Rest of River of the GE-Pittsfield/Housatonic River Site | EPA Cleanups: GE-Pittsfield/Housatonic River Site | US EPA

The public is encouraged to provide any input on this Revised Pre-Design Investigation Work Plan for Reach 5A Non-Residential Floodplain Exposure Areas to [email protected] by July 30, 2021.

For all documents subject to public input, see EPA’s web page button titled Opportunities for Input.

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