Alcoa, Reynolds To Pay $20M For Decades-Long Pollution
Alcoa and Reynolds Metals have agreed to pay $20 million for their part in polluting the St. Lawrence River area near Massena.
The two aluminum companies reached a settlement with the federal government, New York state and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.
A news release from the state Department of Environmental Conservation says the settlement is for "injuries to natural resources, recreational fishing, and Mohawk culture resulting from the release of hazardous substances into the St. Lawrence River environment since at least the late 1950s."
Most of the settlement -- $18.5 million -- will be combined with $1.8 million in restoration funds from a 2011 General Motors bankruptcy settlement.
In all, a total of $20.3 million is slated to go to restoring the St. Lawrence River.
For decades, officials say, the Alcoa, Reynolds Metals (now known as Alcoa East) and former GM Central Foundry plants in Massena released hazardous substances including PCBs into the environment.
The Mohawk community of Akwesasne was especially hard hit by the pollution.
About $8.4 million will go to the tribe to support traditional Mohawk cultural practices, including an apprenticeship program to promote Mohawk language and traditional teachings.
A portion will also support cultural institutions, including youth outdoor education programs and horticultural programs for medicine, healing and nutrition.
More than $10 million will be spent on a variety of ecological restoration projects, including restoring and enhancing wetlands, stream banks, native grasslands, bird nesting and roosting habitat, and fisheries and fish habitat.
Nearly $2 million will be used to develop and upgrade two boat launches on the Raquette River and construct three new launches on the Grasse River to improve fishing and boating access to rivers in the Massena area.
Thursday, May 5, 2016, Watertown, NY
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