GE Completes Vernal Pool Survey. Results Say PCB Remediation Works.

As part of its campaign to evade its responsibility to clean its PCBs from the Housatonic River, GE has been arguing for years that any remediation of vernal pools would be devastating to such fragile habitats.  BEAT responded to GE’s warnings with rebuttals.

Last spring and summer, GE conducted a survey of the one vernal pool that has so far been cleaned of PCBs.  The study received oversight from Stantec Consulting Services and Weston Solutions Inc.  Weston oversaw the survey on behalf of the EPA.  Here is what they found in that pool along the river in Pittsfield.

Contrary to GE’s prediction that remediation would create something just short of a moonscape, the vernal pool is well vegetated and quite green.  Here is one of GE’s photos from their study. (captions are BEAT’s)

Vernal pool after remediation

Vernal pool after being cleaned of PCBs

The expert that GE hired as part of its campaign, Professor Robert Brooks from Pennsylvania, voiced a warning that amphibians in the pools would leave and not come back if we disrupted their lives by digging out contaminated sediments.  “And what’s important is that all of these species come back to the same ponds to breed. They have a lot of site fidelity. So if the ponds are not here or if they’re removed for a few years there’s no place for them to go and those generations will perish.”

It seems Professor Brooks was wrong.  The GE survey found more than 100 wood frog egg masses in the pool.  Studies conducted in the pre-remediation years of 1998 and 2003 found 18 egg masses and about 30 egg masses.

Last year’s study also found over 1,000 wood frog tadpoles, some of them beginning to metamorphose into adults.  Here are some GE photos. (captions are BEAT’s)


A wood frog egg mass

One wood frog egg mass


Wood frog tadpoles

Wood frog tadpoles

In June, workers from Weston Solutions found wood frog tadpoles that were metamorphosing and others that were fully metamorphosed into adults.

A metamorphosed wood frog

A metamorphosed wood frog

BEAT would like to point out that the greatest threat to wildlife in and along the Housatonic River comes, not from remediation efforts, but from PCBs.