MASSENA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is conducting its fourth five-year review of the 1,600-acre former Reynolds Metals Superfund site to confirm that the implemented cleanup continues to protect human health and the environment.
The last five-year review occurred in 2016 and determined that the actions taken at the site continue to be protective.
The regular reviews are required by federal law when contaminants remain at a site.
The review includes inspecting the site and cleanup technologies; reviewing monitoring data, operating data and maintenance records; and determining if any new relevant regulatory requirements have been established since EPA’s original cleanup decision was finalized.
The site, now known as Alcoa East and owned and operated by Alcoa Corporation, was built in 1958 to produce aluminum. It closed in 2014.
While operating, various types of industrial waste were disposed of throughout the site. The company also discharged contaminants into the St. Lawrence River through four permitted outfalls, the discharge point of a waste stream into a body of water.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were the primary contaminants found in the river’s sediment adjacent to the facility. Other Reynolds-related contaminants found in the sediment included aluminum, furans and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Under a Unilateral Administrative Order issued by the EPA in 1989, the company agreed to investigate and clean up contamination in the river system surrounding its facility.
A study determined that about 30 acres of sediments were contaminated with PCBs and other contaminates due to discharges from the facility, and the contaminated sediments presented a potential ecological and human health risk.
EPA began a dredging program in 2001 to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of the river. A total mass of about 20,200 pounds of PCBs were removed from the riverbed adjacent to the facility.
In areas where the cleanup goal had not been met after multiple dredging attempts, a cap was placed to isolate any remaining contamination. Dredging and capping of the contaminated sediments was completed in 2009, and the caps are monitored for erosion, and repairs are made as necessary. Fishing sampling is also being performed.
The administrative review, which includes EPA decision documents used for selecting the cleanup remedy, can be viewed at the Massena Public Library or the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Environmental Division.
A summary of cleanup activities and an evaluation of the protectiveness of the implemented cleanup will be included in the five-year review report. The report is expected to be available in late spring at www.epa.gov/superfund/reynolds-metals-ny.