DEC recommends cleanup at Alcoa mill site

MASSENA — The Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended cleanup following an environmental investigation of the Alcoa Continuous Mill state Superfund site.

The investigation report recommends development of a remedy to address contamination found in relation to the site. The results will help to evaluate alternatives to address the contamination.

The environmental study was done by Howmet Aerospace, Inc. (formerly Arconic Inc.) for the Alcoa Continuous Mill site on Park Avenue East.

The former Continuous Mill is a 1.34-acre area located within Building 140 on the Alcoa West Plant property. While there are no current operating processes within the site area and all machinery has been removed, other surrounding portions of Building 140 maintain active manufacturing operations.

Three areas of concern have been identified within the Continuous Mill — a former furnace area, former oil cellars and a former turnstile wire coiling area. The entire site, including these areas, are the subject of this remedial program.

The DEC said investigations were conducted in two phases — Phase I in 2019 and Phase II in 2020-21.

“The contaminants of concern at this site are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which, historically, were commonly added to hydraulic oils. The identified PCB contamination is likely the result of historical releases at the site,” DEC officials said in a fact sheet.

Testing of groundwater showed PCBs, as well as minor impacts from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil and gasoline. They are also produced when coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage and tobacco are burned.

“The PCB, VOC, and PAH impacts are highly localized and limited to the areas in the immediate vicinity of potential historical release locations,” they said.

DEC officials said contaminant mobility in soil and groundwater at the site is limited because of the low soil permeability, absence of active sources and lack of rainwater infiltration due to the site’s location beneath Building 140.

Based on the findings of the study, DEC has recommended that a site cleanup be completed to remove the threat posed by the PCBs in the soil and PCB, VOC and PAH impacts in groundwater.

A Feasibility Study will be completed based on information obtained during the investigation to define the objectives of the site cleanup program, develop cleanup alternatives, and screen and analyze the alternatives. DEC will then develop a draft cleanup, called a “Proposed Remedial Action Plan,” which will describe the remedy they prefer to address contamination to the site.

“The draft cleanup plan will explain the decision that led to the preferred remedy by discussing each alternative and the reasons for choosing or rejecting it. The goal of the plan will be to ensure the protection of public health and the environment,” DEC officials said.

They will announce the availability of the draft cleanup plan in a future fact sheet and will present it for review and comment during a 30-day comment period and at a public meeting.

The Continuous Mill site is one of 16 inactive hazardous waste disposal sites located on the 3,400-acre former Alcoa property. The sites are in various stages of the cleanup process.

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