(Reuters) - General Electric Co has agreed to conduct a study of shoreline contamination of New York's Hudson River, the company's latest step in an extensive clean-up effort of toxic chemicals it dumped into the waterway decades ago.
The study will cost GE an estimated $20.5 million, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which announced the agreement on Wednesday. It will evaluate floodplains in a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson River, and will develop clean-up options.
The focus on the Hudson's shorelines is the next step in the clean-up of the river, which was contaminated by chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. Dredging of the river, which started in 2009, is expected to finish next year.
One of the world's largest industrial manufacturers, GE dumped PCBs for three decades prior to discontinuing their use in 1977.
The chemicals mixed with sediment on the river bottom and at some locations along the shoreline, according to the EPA. Since 2000, the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and GE have collected more than 7,000 soil samples on land.
"We are now actively addressing the issues of possible PCB contamination on the shoreline properties and floodplains," EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said in a statement.
GE has already spent more than $1 billion to clean up the river. Ann Klee, GE's vice president of global operations, environmental health and safety, said the new study builds "on the work we have been doing in the river and along the shorelines for many years."
"This agreement was cooperative and demonstrates GE's continued commitment to meet its environmental obligations," Klee said in a statement on Wednesday.
Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by James Dalgleish