Civic organization plans to sue Con Ed over sewage dumped in Hudson River

A civic organization plans to sue New York’s largest utility company over the alleged illegal dumping of heated, toxic sewage into a Hudson River estuary sanctuary.

The City Club of New York, along with Tom Fox, a club representative who sits on the Hudson River Park Advisory Board, plan to sue Con Edison for alleged “continuing violations” of federal clean water law, according to a notice sent to the energy company earlier this month and obtained by ABC News.

Based on a review of public records, the petitioners allege that Con Ed is dumping water used to cool a power plant off Pier 98 at Hudson River Park to “dangerously high temperatures” for aquatic life in the river. They also allege that Con Ed is dumping sewage containing “toxic pollutants,” such as chloroform, into the estuary sanctuary in violation of his state permit.

This case was first reported by the New York Times.

Consolidated Edison commonly known as Con Edison or ConEd, energy company logo seen displayed displayed on a smartphone.

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Through their attorneys, the City Club of New York and Fox sent notice to Con Ed on August 10 of their intent to sue within 60 days.

Fox, who was involved in the effort to create the Hudson River park, said he was unaware of the alleged spill, which allegedly happened for decades until recently.

“Nobody knew. I didn’t, and I’ve been involved with the park for 40 years, from the beginning,” he told ABC News. “I think for some reason that hasn’t been publicly acknowledged. Now that it is, we have a chance to put it right.”

The notice of intent claims that Con Ed has violated state rules for estuaries by dumping water into the river that exceeds 90 degrees on more than a dozen occasions since 2006, according to records from the state. He claims that a permit amendment that Con Ed applied for in 2006 to allow for a higher landfill temperature was incorrectly approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation because the agency The state did not hold a public hearing on the request, in accordance with federal and state law. He also claims that Con Ed dumped pollutants into the Hudson River without a valid permit for over a year.

In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Con Ed said the company was “in compliance with our water temperature and chemical discharge permit at Pier 98.”

“We are reviewing the letter in detail and have noted numerous inaccuracies,” spokesman Allan Drury said. “For example, our permit has not expired and we have not exceeded our permitted temperature limits. We will address these and other issues with the appropriate parties.”

The City Club of New York and Fox plan to seek an injunction requiring Con Ed to stop all discharges into the river, among other relief.

The notice of intent to sue was also sent to the DEC and the Hudson River Park Trust, which operates the Hudson River Park and is Con Ed’s lessor. The petitioners allege that the DEC and the trust are aware of the violations of the Clean Water Act at the Con Ed plant, but failed to act.

“Con Ed’s continued thermal and industrial discharge into the sanctuary – facilitated by failure to comply with applicable federal and state laws by DEC and the Trust – poses a threat to the preservation and protection of these resources,” the notice reads. .

In a statement to ABC News, DEC said it has identified more than two dozen minor “discrepancies” at the plant since 2010 and has taken no enforcement action at the facility since that year.

“Since 2010, of the 4,400 sampling records at the Con Edison plant, DEC has identified 27 reported exceedances and non-reporting of operational parameters unrelated to the facility outlet,” he said. declared. “These discrepancies were considered minor and quickly resolved.”

ABC News did not immediately receive a response from the Hudson River Park Trust seeking comment.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

Aubrey L. Morgan