Alcoa & Lavaca Bay
Over the last decade, developing and implementing sound environmental solutions for Lavaca Bay has been the focus of many in Calhoun County. Through cooperative relationships, Alcoa employees, local citizens, state and federal agencies and scientists have worked together to determine the best cleanup solutions and recreational uses for the bay. The cleanup effort at Lavaca Bay is proof that hard work, dedication, community input and sound science are key to restoring ecological balance and enhancing the community’s quality of life.
Activities nearly 40 years ago at Alcoa’s Point Comfort facility resulted in the discharge of wastewater, including mercury, into Lavaca Bay. After years of extensive testing and assessment, environmental regulatory agencies and Alcoa have developed and agreed on an approach to address the Lavaca Bay issues.
Alcoa has undertaken the cleanup and has invested more than $110 million developing and implementing solutions for the bay. In addition, more than 50 public meetings have been held and a citizen’s group has provided input and advice to the cleanup process over the last 10 years.
The good news is progress has been made and mercury levels have decreased to support ongoing assessments, cleanup efforts and monitoring. To date, the Lavaca Bay cleanup solutions have included:
- Dredging and disposing of more than 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment
- Installing a groundwater treatment system
- Securing a 425-acre island used to confine contaminated sediments from hurricanes
- Ongoing monitoring of Lavaca Bay
Alcoa and the government recently signed an agreement that outlined future plans for Lavaca Bay. Alcoa expects to spend an additional $11 million to support ongoing assessments, cleanup efforts and monitoring.
As a result of extensive environmental testing and assessment, the vast majority of Lavaca Bay is open to commercial and recreational fishing. The restricted use area is confined to a very small area around the Alcoa docks and the offshore Dredge Island.
To enhance recreational use and quality of life, Alcoa is designing and building several new fishing piers and docks, a boat ramp and modifying an existing jetty. In addition, the company is donating 729 acres of property to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, constructing 70 acres of intertidal salt marsh within the refuge and an oyster reef at the mouth of Keller and Lavaca Bays.
Lavaca Bay is an integral part of Calhoun County’s culture, and Alcoa is committed to doing its part to restore the bay. For more information about Alcoa’s commitment to Lavaca Bay, please contact Laurel Cahill at 361-987-6500.