Officials from the Department of Ecology and Alcoa outlined the next phase of the cleanup effort at the former Reynolds Aluminum site at a lunch-hour presentation Thursday at Lower Columbia College.
They also gave assurances that the work will be done, even if a proposed coal terminal at the same site is never developed.
James DeMay, who oversees cleanups for the state Department of Ecology, said his department is continuing to investigate the extent of the pollution.
In early 2014, the public will have the opportunity to read and respond to a preliminary study that will outline estimated costs and tasks associated with the cleanup. By late summer 2014, an action plan and dangerous waste permit should be in place, DeMay said.
In the mid-20th century, when there were fewer environmental regulations, workers at Reynolds would regularly dump chemicals on the ground, which seeped into the soil and groundwater. Now, various toxic compounds are present in localized sites around the property. Cyanide and flouride are especially widespread, DeMay said.
Both DeMay and Josh Wilund, a spokesperson for Pennsylvania-based Alcoa, said the planning process is somewhat complicated by the history of the property’s ownership.
Currently, Northwest Alloys, a subsidiary of Alcoa owns the 416-acre site on the Columbia River west of Longview, and must clean the site. However, in 2010, Millennium Bulk Terminals bought the buildings and operations on the site from Chinook Ventures, with hopes of developing it into a $643 million coal export terminal. Alcoa and Millennium are collaborating on the cleanup effort, Wilund said.
Millennium employees have removed about 200,000 tons of debris from the former aluminium smelter, DeMay said.