General Electric Co., Fairfield, Conn., responding to pressure from the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, made public a breakdown of its $799.3 million in spending on PCB-related contamination site inspection and remediation projects, including costs for public relations, lobbying and legal fees from 1990 to 2005. As a result, the group withdrew a shareholder proposal seeking the disclosure.
The group "succeeded in pressuring General Electric to detail the millions of dollars the company spent," it said in a statement.
Gary Sheffer, GE spokesman, confirmed that the group was influential in getting GE to report the break down of the costs.
"A good deal of this information ... had been released previously," Mr. Sheffer said. "We released cumulative totals of the cleanup. But information breaking down spending on these projects by different categories, such as legal fees and public relations, was in response to this request."
GE's PCB-related spending for sites in New York, Massachusetts and Georgia included $509.9 million for site investigation and remediation, $79.9 million paid to government agencies, $86.6 million in legal costs, $46.5 million for scientific research, $33.4 million in "press and informational initiatives" and $2.1 million in governmental relations, according to the GE report. PCB cleanup work will begin in 2007.
A proposal calling for such disclosure got 27.5% of the GE share vote in 2005, the group noted.
The Tri-State CRI is a coalition of mostly Catholic congregations and Catholic dioceses in the New York metropolitan area. Details about their funds were unavailable.
Sister Patricia Daly, Tri-State Coalition executive director, said in the statement, "General Electric deserves credit for finally coming clean about the costs of its stalling tactics on PCB contamination, but the reality is that $800 million would have gone a long, long way to cleaning up the problem if that money had not been wasted on PR, lobbying, and courtroom delaying tactics. Additional stalling is simply not a viable option here; GE needs to commit now to get the job done to clean up this very serious environmental and health problem as expeditiously as possible."