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EPA in New York

Cleanup of Reynolds Metals Company, Massena, NY

Site Background

The 1,600-acre former Reynolds Metals Facility is located on the St. Lawrence River, approximately eight miles east of the village of Massena, New York. The facility now known as Alcoa East was constructed in 1958 for the production of aluminum and closed in 2014. It is owned and operated by Alcoa Corporation.

Through its operation, various types of industrial waste were disposed of throughout the Reynolds facility. Reynolds also discharged contaminants to the St. Lawrence River through four permitted outfalls. Before actions were taken to address the contamination at the site, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were the primary contaminant found in the St. Lawrence sediment adjacent to the Reynolds facility. Other contaminants that were found in the St. Lawrence River sediment included aluminum, furans, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

EPA’s Involvement at this Site

In November 1989, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to Reynolds requiring them to undertake an investigation of the river system surrounding its Massena facility. The Order also included design and implementation of EPA’s final cleanup remedy to address contamination in river sediments.

In 2001, EPA began an excavation program to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of the River. The remediation area was temporarily contained by a steel wall, and silt curtains were used during dredging of highly contaminated materials in order to prevent transport to areas with low levels of contamination. A total mass of approximately 20,200 pounds of PCBs were removed from the St. Lawrence Riverbed adjacent to the Alcoa East facility. In areas where post-dredging sampling determined that the cleanup goal had not been met despite multiple dredging attempts, a cap was placed to isolate any remaining contamination. Dredging and capping of the contaminated sediments was completed in 2009. Monitoring the caps for erosion and making repairs as necessary are required.

Site Status

Under Superfund, EPA conducts reviews every five years at cleanup sites to evaluate if they continue to protect human health and the environment. The last five year review of the Reynolds Metals Company Site occurred in 2016 and determined that the actions taken at the site continue to be protective.

Communities Affected by the Site

The Reynolds Metals Superfund site is located along the northern boundary of New York state, within the town of Massena and just outside the village of Massena. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the town of Massena has a population of approximately 13,000 people and covers an area of 56 square miles. Primary land uses in the vicinity of the Reynolds Metals site include residential, agricultural, industrial, recreational and tribal activities.

Akwesasne, the Mohawk territory of the federally recognized Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, lies just east of Massena and is located along the St. Lawrence River downstream of the site. The Saint Regis Mohawk Territory lands are divided by the United States and Canadian border and subdivided by Franklin County in New York and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada.

According to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Akwesasne (Land Where the Partridge Drums) has a population of 12,400 people and covers a land area of approximately 16,640 square acres which includes wetlands, agricultural land, woodlands and light commercial development. The consumption of fish or wildlife from contaminated areas is of special concern because of the proximity of the Mohawk Tribal lands.