Berkshire County Communities Seek Compensation from GE

Six communities from Berkshire County have joined forces against General Electric. The group seeks compensation from the company for collateral damages expected from the next round of PCB cleanup of the Housatonic River.

Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and Sheffield want to make sure they get money for any negative impacts if and when GE’s cleanup of the Housatonic resumes.

Nat Karns is the executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, which is working with the six communities to negotiate with GE.

“In a nutshell, they will be asking for compensation for the economic damages they expect that they will be incurring due to the very extensive cleanup of the PCBs from the river,” Karns says.

Karns says a consultant from the EPA calculated the economic impact at approximately $250 million. The communities think the estimate is likely double that.

Karns says the cleanup process could hurt tourism, traffic and residential property values. 

The Berkshire communities are each expected to contribute $10,000 to pay a law firm to represent them in negotiations with GE.

Five communities have already voted to join the coalition. Pittsfield’s city council will vote on its contribution tonight. GE did not immediately comment on this story. 

This story was written and reported by Brianda Reyes.