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Economic and dam related articles

EPA Seeks Public Comment
on Smelter Cleanup

by Gosia Wozniacka
The Oregonian, August 22, 2006

Troutdale - The agency says soils at the former Reynolds site
"no longer pose a significant risk"

The Environmental Protection Agency will seek public comment about its cleanup plan for the defunct aluminum smelter site in Troutdale at a community meeting today.

The soils at the former Reynolds Metal plant site "no longer pose a significant risk to human health or the environment," according to the agency's report, released this month.

The soil and groundwater were contaminated with fluoride, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) and other hazardous substances, according to the environmental agency's reports. To date, tons of contaminated soil and residue have been excavated and hauled away.

"Reynolds (a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcoa) has been a very cooperative party in this cleanup process," EPA project manager Chip Humphrey said. "The risk assessment (done by a Reynolds/Alcoa consultant) is very conservative. They actually assumed that the worker who would be there would be in contact with the soil every day, eight hours a day, for 20 years."

The Port of Portland is expected to finalize its purchase of the Reynolds property, now owned by Alcoa Inc., by the end of the year, according to port officials. At the end of July, the Port confirmed it would not build an intermodal rail facility on the smelter site, which is north of the Troutdale airport.

Instead, the Port plans to develop the 700-acre property into an industrial park. The Port signed a $17.25 million purchase agreement with Reynolds Metals Inc. in September 2004. The sale is contingent on the site's satisfactory cleanup, Port officials said.

The EPA report recommends "institutional controls" such as zoning restrictions on the site's future use, as well as restrictions on the use of groundwater for drinking for 20 years or more. The EPA would have to approve any change in these restrictions. The agency also recommends continuing to operate a system that extracts and contains contaminated groundwater.

Alternative actions outlined by the EPA include institutional controls only, continuing operation of groundwater system only, or no action at all. The agency will make its final decision after the close of the public comment period on Sept. 4.

If the EPA adopts its recommended actions, it will enter into an agreement with Alcoa to place restrictions on the property and the groundwater, Humphrey said. If Alcoa sells the property, the buyer could perform the work, but Alcoa would remain legally responsible for cleanup and monitoring.

The U.S. government built the smelter in 1941 to supply aluminum for equipment needed to fight World War II. Reynolds bought the plant in the 1940s and continued to produce aluminum there until 2000, when Alcoa Inc. acquired it. The smelter was demolished, and the EPA declared the property a Superfund cleanup site.

Gosia Wozniacka
EPA Seeks Public Comment on Smelter Cleanup
The Oregonian, August 5, 2006

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