EPA facilitated settlement for Grasse River

In your July 16 article, “Arconic will provide $2.25 million towards mussel restoration on Grasse River,” you note that New York state asked for specific habitat reconstruction requirements in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup.

The story includes a quote from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that would lead people to believe that EPA stands in opposition to the habitat reconstruction project. The EPA takes exception to being portrayed as a roadblock to protecting natural resources in a situation where the opposite is true.

The truth is that the EPA got the ball rolling on an agreement between Arconic and the DEC by approaching the company and writing to the DEC to suggest it pursue a separate agreement outside the purview of Superfund. The EPA facilitated negotiations through discussions individually and with both parties resulting in the final settlement.

The EPA also has bridged the gap between Superfund and the desired outcome using its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to work with the DEC and Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe on mussel propagation, a mussel habitat enhancement project, and funded a lake sturgeon study in the lower Grasse River.

To be clear, the EPA went above and beyond our responsibilities under the federal Superfund program to creatively and collaboratively find a way for the mussel relocation to occur.

We were and remain deeply invested in responding to the desire of the SRMT to care for the natural and cultural resources on the Grasse River, and we took action to further that protection.

Far from denying the mussel relocation, the EPA facilitated the very settlement that the DEC announced.

Pete Lopez

New York City

The writer is administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Region 2.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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