When a factory has been dumping provably toxic pollutants into a waterway, it can usually settle the case by simply agreeing to stop. Last week General Electric went a long step further: it agreed to help pay for a cleanup.

For years GE had routinely flushed long-lived polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the upper Hudson River from its plants at Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, N.Y. These compounds are widely used in the manufacture of electrical equipment, but have been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals and illnesses in plant workers. They would probably even harm people who eat fish...

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