Schumer Helps Alcoa Pressure EPA To Finalize Cleanup Plan
It's been decades since Alcoa pumped toxic polychlorinated biphenyls - or PCBs - into the Grasse River near Massena.
The company is waiting for the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize a plan before it can clean up pollution in a seven-mile stretch of the river.
Alcoa wants to know what the cleanup will cost before it moves forward with plans to spend millions of dollars modernizing its east plant, which used to be owned by Reynolds Metals.
"It's a balance between doing what's right for the environment, at the same time doing what's right for jobs in the north country and keeping the economy going strong here," said plant manager John Martin.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited Alcoa Wednesday to throw his support behind Alcoa's efforts asking the EPA to fast-track the cleanup plan.
"If they are required to invest an unusual amount of money in the cleanup," Schumer said, "they'll have less money for the expansion of the plant."
Alcoa conducted a large-scale dredging pilot project in 2005, removing thousands of cubic yards of contaminated materials from the river bottom and capping other areas.
A dozen options have been looked at. The company favors a compromise $200 million option that uses the same technology.
Alcoa workers, union leaders and community officials remain optimistic Alcoa will decide to move forward with plans to upgrade and expand the east plant, despite what some are calling an environmental speed bump.
"It's a modernization that's huge for Massena, but the cleanup of the Grasse River is great for the community," said David LaClair Jr, president of Local 450-A.
Local officials say the clock is ticking on the modernization plan.
The plan, and the future of hundreds of jobs, will be considered by Alcoa's board of directors in March.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Watertown, NY
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