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Federal officials outlined the initial areas of the Hudson River to be dredged for PCBs as they continued to seek a final agreement with General Electric on the $500 million cleanup plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency released details Thursday on the first phase of dredging scheduled to begin next year along a portion of the targeted 40-mile stretch of river north of Albany. GE released polychlorinated biphenyls into the upper river before they were banned by the federal government in 1977.

The EPA called the delineation of PCB "hot spots" near Fort Edward, comprising about a tenth of the 2.65 million cubic yards to be dredged, "a key milestone" in the cleanup process.

With dredging scheduled to begin next year, the agency is still working on other design details and continues long negotiations with GE on a final plan for the Superfund site.

GE spokesman Mark Behan said negotiators were focusing on whether the dredged waste will be shipped out by barge or rail and where it will be disposed.

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