EPA Formally Approves Alcoa Cleanup Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made it official Friday: it has approved a $243 million plan for Alcoa to clean up pollution in the Grasse River in Massena.The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe announced Thursday the plan was approved. And Massena Mayor Jim Hidy is happy. "This is welcome news to our community and to our region that needed some feel-good news," he said. "This couldn't come at a better time." Hidy was interviewed by phone on 7 News At Noon. Click on the picture for the full interview. The plan requires dredging and capping of contaminated sediment in a 7.2 mile stretch of the river. About 109,000 cubic yards of contaminated material will be dredged and removed from the river and placed in a secure landfill. Approximately 59 acres of contaminated sediment will be covered with an armored cap and another 225 acres will be capped with a mix of clean sand and topsoil. From the 1950s until the mid-1970s, the company released waste including PCBs from what's now known as Alcoa West onto its property and into the Grasse River. As a result, sediment was contaminated in the waters near Alcoa West and extending about seven miles downstream. Approval of the plan is widely seen as helping ensure the future of Alcoa in Massena. It's considered the last obstacle to the aluminum company's plan to modernize what's known as its Massena East plant, which was formerly owned by Reynolds Metals. The $600 million renovation is expected to preserve 900 jobs. Hidy said the Alcoa project will do for Massena what construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway did in the 1950s. "The trickle-down is going to be enormous for the community," Hidy said, noting the project "brings a lot of construction jobs in." The Mohawks are critical of cleanup plan, saying it would leave 93 percent of the pollution in place. The mayor, on the other hand, thinks the plan is a good one. "It's the fair thing to do -- keep people working, keep the industry in Massena -- and let's move forward," Hidy said. See the EPA's Announcement.