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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Environmental Enforcers

RIVERKEEPER started as the Hudson River Fishermen's Association in 1967 to protect the dwindling fish stock. Robert Kennedy Jr. took an interest and it morphed into Riverkeeper, a law enforcement and patrolling agency, according to Philip Musegasse who spoke to us on Wednesday.

Battling the nuclear power plant at Indian Point (5 miles north of here) has been a 40-year struggle. It uses 2.5 billion gallons of water a day—twice the amount used by NYC. And they use it for free. Heated water is thenreleased back into the river. This destroys millions of fish eggs and small fish: American shad, river herring, striped bass and Atlantic sturgeon, which can grow up to eight feet long. Female stugeon do not reproduce young till they are 20. Though protected, they still are effected by Indian Point.

RK's goal is a swimmable, fishable and drinkable Hudson river. Also of late energy companies have begun leasing land and drilling for natural gas in the Catskills which runs the risk of cataminating the watershed, should there be a spill or accident.

GE had been dumping PCBs in the Hudson for years and finally they started dredging, with EPA monitoring for any "resuspension" of pollutants downstream. PCBs would take thousands of years to breakdown, meanwhile killing wildlife as well as causing cancer or other diseases in humans.

Newtown Creek near NYC had been polluted with sludge (see photo) by Exxon Mobil which RK is suing to clean up.

Musegasse said RK patrols by boat and helicopter and takes water samples from 100 locations several times a month. Test results are posted on their website. www.riverkeepers.org

Pharmaceuticals are showing up in larger amounts in the water and ecosystem. What effect these have on fish and waterfowl remains to be seen.

Riverkeeper collaborates with Clearwater and Scenic Hudson to protect the environment, educate people and help future generations enjoy the mighty Hudson river.

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