Cleanup of former Reynolds smelter site hits milestone

A recently completed draft environmental study details the extent of contamination and potential cleanup options for the former Reynolds aluminum smelter site near Longview.

Most of the contamination found at the site is associated with waste left behind from decades of aluminum production. Elevated levels of fluoride and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found in soil, along with elevated concentrations of fluoride in groundwater near the waste.

 The study also identifies a small area of Columbia River sediment near the site’s outfall that is contaminated above levels that are safe for aquatic life.

TheWashington Department of Ecology is working with property owner Alcoa and operator Millennium to investigate contamination and identify cleanup options. The public is invited to review and comment on the draft study through Aug. 1. Ecology is also seeking comments on a proposal to remove the contaminated sediment by the outfall this year as part of an interim action project.

The study identifies a range of cleanup options, including capping or removing contaminated waste materials for disposal at an appropriate landfill. The most promising option for contaminated groundwater appears to be installing treatment systems called “permeable reactive barriers” in key locations. For contaminated sediments, the only good option is removal.

“Cleaning up this site is our No. 1 priority, and we are hoping for a productive public comment process that helps move cleanup forward,” said Garin Schrieve, Ecology’s industrial section manager, noting that this comment period is not an opportunity to comment on coal issues or proposals.

Public meetings:

  • June 18: An open house from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Cowlitz PUD auditorium, 961 12th Ave., Longview.
  • July 16: An open house and hearing at the Kelso Red Lion, 510 Kelso Drive. The open house begins at 4 p.m. A presentation starts at 6:30 p.m. and is followed by the hearing.

Review documents:

  • Ecology’s website
  • Longview Public Library, 1600 Louisiana St., Longview
  • Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive S.E., Lacey

Submit comments:

  • Mail – Guy Barrett, Dept of Ecology, Industrial Section, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.
  • Email – [email protected].
  • Fax 360-407-6102