New York toxic sludge heads to Texas burial site

Crews are still unloading the first 81-car train load of toxic sludge sucked out of New York's Hudson River into specially dug storage pits at a West Texas waste disposal site.

The load, which likely passed through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, arrived at the Waste Control Specialists site in Andrews County this month, company spokesman Chuck McDonald said.

"On this first load, we are going very slowly to make sure we know what we are doing," McDonald said. "We are taking our time. Everything has gone smoothly."

This is the first of hundreds of loads of contaminated waste expected to be sent to West Texas from a Hudson environmental cleanup that could cost $750 million.

General Electric dumped polychlorinated biphenyls into the Hudson for 30 years until the chemicals were banned in 1977. Now GE is working to clean up the river. Some research shows that high doses of PCBs can cause cancer in animals and create health problems in humans such as low birth weight and immune system disorders.

Workers, though a deal approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, are pulling sludge from the bottom of the Hudson, squeezing out water, sticks and rocks and shipping cakelike mud to the WCS site, owned by Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons.

Once the train arrives in Andrews County, WCS pulls the cars into a covered facility where sludge wrapped in a protective liner is transferred to large truck haulers and taken to the pits, McDonald said.

"Each train car has, for lack of better words, something like a big burrito inside it," he said. "Those are unloaded."


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