Since the early 1900s, GE operated a large-scale industrial facility, including the manufacturing and servicing of power transformers, defense and aerospace (ordnance) and plastics, and used numerous industrial chemicals at its Pittsfield facility. From 1932 through 1977, General Electric manufactured and serviced electrical transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Years of PCB and industrial chemical use, and improper disposal, led to extensive contamination around Pittsfield, Massachusetts, as well as down the entire length of the Housatonic River.
The Housatonic River is about 150 miles from its headwaters on the East Branch in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, and flows through Connecticut into Long Island Sound.
Upon learning of the chemical�s ability to harm wildlife and human health, EPA banned the production of PCBs in 1979. The cleanup areas in Pittsfield join numerous PCB sites throughout the country in size and cleanup challenges.
After testing groundwater, river sediment, soil, and wildlife, it was clear that the contamination needed to be addressed. PCBs do not readily break down in the natural environment. If left untouched at this site, they would continue to pose a risk.
The buildup of PCB levels within animals is known as �bioaccumulation.� PCBs do not break down quickly once consumed; instead, they are carried up the food chain. Health effects from PCBs have been linked to cancer and other serious effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system and other organs.
Site investigations and long-term cleanup are ongoing.