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News Releases from Region 02

Construction Begins on Grasse River Cleanup Facility in Massena, N.Y.

EPA to Hold Public Meetings on May 9 & 10 in Massena and Akwesasne

Contact Information: 
Larisa Romanowski (

(Albany, N.Y.) Construction work has begun on a facility in Massena, NY to support the estimated $243 million cleanup of the Grasse River Superfund Site. When constructed, the multipurpose facility will be used as a staging area to support dredging and capping operations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold public meetings on May 9 and 10 to update the community on work at the cleanup support facility.  

In 2013, the EPA finalized a cleanup plan to address river sediment that is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as a result of past industrial activities. PCBs are potentially cancer causing in people and build up in the fat of fish and animals. Arconic Inc. (formerly Alcoa) is performing the work. The EPA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe are working together on the oversight and coordination of the various components of the cleanup project.

“The construction of the on-land support facility is an important step that brings us closer to a cleaner and healthier river,” said Acting Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan.

Cleanup of the Grasse River will be done through dredging and capping of contaminated sediment in a 7.2-mile stretch of river. The plan calls for dredging approximately 109,000 cubic yards of sediment from near-shore areas of the river. In the river’s main channel, approximately 59 acres of sediment will be covered with an armored cap and another approximately 225 acres of contaminated sediment will be capped with a mix of clean sand and topsoil to isolate the contamination from the surrounding environment. This spring, a staging area will be constructed for the unloading of sediment dredged from areas near the shore of the river. The area will also be used to stage and load clean materials that will be used to backfill dredged areas and to cap the river bottom during the in-river cleanup. The staging area is located next to the river, near the intersection of County Route 42 and Route 131 in Massena. The staging area is planned to be completed by November 2017. The engineering plans and other design work necessary for the dredging and capping work are under development. At this time, the schedule for the start of in-river cleanup work has not yet been determined.

This year’s work includes clearing and grading of the staging area, installation of a water transfer line, construction of a docking facility along the riverfront, and removal of a small amount of sediment along the shoreline next to the staging area. This spring’s construction work also includes expansion of the permitted, licensed on-site Arconic Massena West landfill so that it can store dredged sediment and other materials generated this year and when the river cleanup work is performed.   

Plans to protect the health and safety of the workers and area communities are in place. The air and river water will be monitored during the work. A traffic management plan has been developed to minimize the increased truck traffic at and near the staging area. Residents should exercise caution when driving in the area. With the exception of collecting samples of river water, all of the work being conducted in 2017 will be performed by land and is not expected to impact recreational boating on the Grasse River.

The EPA will hold public meetings on May 9 in Massena and May 10 in Akwesasne to discuss the details of the staging area construction work.   

Public Meetings:

Massena: Tuesday, May 9, 2017                             Akwesasne: Wednesday, May 10, 2017

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.                                                 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Massena Town Hall                                                    Office for the Aging - Seniors

60 Main Street                                                            Dining Hall                                         

Board Room #30                                                         29 Business Park Road

Massena, N.Y.                                                            Akwesasne, N.Y.

For more information about the Grasse River Superfund Site, please visit  Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at and visit our Facebook page,