Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding The Hudson River Navigational Dredging Case

A State Supreme Court Justice's ruling in this case was disappointing in one sense, but it also includes a remarkably positive development.

General Electric had sought to dismiss the case on grounds that it was barred by the statute of limitations, but Justice Stephen Ferradino rejected that argument. The judge said this defense was "inapplicable." (See page 5, paragraph 1 of the decision.)

This means that the state's public nuisance claim against GE has been preserved. If the judge had ruled favorably on the statute of limitations claim, it would have been a tremendous blow to the state.

Instead, the judge said that this case was premature. The judge indicated that the case could move ahead once the State Canal Corporation obtains appropriate permits and authorizations for navigational dredging.

The next step, therefore, depends on the Canal Corporation. In the past, this state agency has denied that there is a serious navigational problem in the canal. Residents of the region strongly dispute this claim. For example, the supervisor of Fort Edward has stated: "Over the past several years, I've seen 30-40 boats get stuck trying to get into the Fort Edward basin. If we can't bring in the tour boats and luxury craft anymore, then the small shops and other businesses don't have a chance. This channel needs to be dredged."

I urge the Canal Corporation to obtain the necessary permits and authorizations for navigational dredging, and to work with my office in restoring the navigability of the Upper Hudson River. The judge's ruling indicates the strong likelihood that GE will be responsible for the added costs of this project, and, therefore, we must move forward with the claim.

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