February 20, 2012 

 

Alcoa forming public advisory board as part of Reynolds site cleanup

 

The owner of Longview's former Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum making site is assembling an advisory board of community leaders to stay abreast of the company's efforts to clean up industrial contamination.

 

Alcoa owns the land at the 416-acre site and leases the buildings to Millennium Bulk Terminals, which plans to build a coal export terminal there. The state Department of Ecology is working with Alcoa on a plan to remove the cyanide, fluoride and other toxins left in the soil and shallow groundwater from decades of aluminum smelting.

 

Alcoa spokesman Josh Wilund is recruiting interested members of the public to form an "independent and diverse" group that will meet four times a year about the cleanup to discuss its science and progress. The first meeting will be sometime in April.

 

"The site cleanup is on a lot of people's radar, and we need to make sure we do a great job of communicating it," Wilund said Monday.

So far, nearly 15 representatives have committed from the city of Longview, Cowlitz Economic Development Council, Legislature, Cowlitz PUD, Port of Longview, Columbia Riverkeeper, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21, JH Kelly and The Daily News, he said.

"If we have people from all different walks, all different backgrounds ... it's going to give us a better idea of what we need to be communicating and sharing," Wilund said.

 

The group's discussions will focus on the environmental clean-up and not other issues regarding the site, he emphasized. Anyone who'd like to join the Alcoa/Northwest Alloys Community Advisory Board should go to www.alcoa.com/longview and click "Cleanup." The website's information is updated weekly.

 

Alcoa plans to submit its updated draft study for clean-up options to the state by late March, Wilund said. The company conducted soil and groundwater sampling last fall and sent a preliminary report of lab work and analysis to Ecology.

 

The next step is for Ecology to prepare a draft clean-up action plan and negotiate a proposed legal agreement (called a "consent decree") with Alcoa and Millennium that's enforceable by the courts. Following a public comment period and public hearing, Ecology will finalize the plan and set it in motion.

 

Cleaning up contaminants in the site's two landfills, four waste ponds, an underground diesel storage tank, a pitch unloading area and ditches will take several years because the work may be done only during dry weather, Ecology officials have said.