ILLINOIS: Alcoa Must Do $4M Cleanup of Old Aluminum Plant

EAST ST. LOUIS, Illinois, December 20, 2021 (ENS) – Alcoa Corporation and Howmet Aerospace, successors to Alcoa Incorporated, and the City of East St. Louis will clean up hazardous waste disposal sites surrounding Alcoa’s former aluminum refinery plant in East St. Louis to resolve federal liability.

The settlement will require the companies to clean up radium, arsenic, chromium, lead and other hazardous substances detected in soils at an estimated cost of $4.1 million and reimburse all future costs incurred by the United States in overseeing the cleanup.

The complaint filed simultaneously with the proposed consent decree alleges that defendants are liable for the cleanup of hazardous wastes generated by and disposed of on and around the site of the Aluminum Company of America’s aluminum manufacturing and production plant that operated from 1903 until 1957.

“Today’s settlement ensures that Alcoa will continue to clean up the hazardous wastes its industrial activities left behind more than 60 years ago,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The work to be performed under this settlement will protect nearby residents and the environment from any future exposure to the hazards from the former plant operations.”

Under the settlement, Alcoa Corporation and Howmet Aerospace, and the City of East St. Louis, which owns some of the property, will be required to implement the cleanup remedy selected by EPA for over 180 acres designated as Operable Unit 2.

They will have to excavate 40,000 cubic yards of near-surface hazardous waste material to a depth of at least two feet, consolidating it with other waste from the former plant, and covering it with a minimum of two feet of clean soil that will be seeded to meet the requirements of applicable Illinois regulations.

Stormwater controls will be installed or reconfigured to protect local properties.

This remedy follows on the cleanup of the adjacent Operable Unit 1, which is 220 acres of the former plant facility. Any groundwater contamination will be the subject of future investigation by EPA.

“For many decades, the residents of East St. Louis have lived near hazardous wastes located at the former Alcoa aluminum production site,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement means a safer environment for neighboring communities, including communities that have been historically overburdened by pollution.”

More information about this settlement can be found at:

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree is available here.

Featured image: East St. Louis, Illinois has a reputation as one of the dirtiest and most dangerous cities in the country. (Screengrab from “Ghetto Hood Tour East St. Louis” via YouTube)

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