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Case Summary: $24.9 Million Cleanup Settlement Reached for the North Alcoa Superfund Alternative Site in Illinois

On February 6, 2014, a consent decree between the United States, Alcoa, Inc., the City of East Saint Louis, Ill. (“City”), and the Alton & Southern Railway (“Railway”) was approved by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The settlement requires the settling defendants to perform approximately $24.9 million worth of work to address 3 million cubic yards of contaminated soil at the North Alcoa Site, Operable Unit 1, in East St. Louis, Ill.

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Information about Companies

Alcoa Inc., is the world’s third largest producer of aluminum with its corporate headquarters in New York, N.Y. and its operational base in Pittsburg, Penn.

The Alton & Southern Railway Company operates as a switching railroad, connecting and directing freight within the United States to various strategic destination points.

Information about the North Alcoa Site

The North Alcoa Site consists of 400 acres located in a mixed use area of East St. Louis, Ill., which is directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Mo. Manufacturing was occurring on or around the site more than 100 years ago. Operations at the North Alcoa Site occurred mostly on the south side of the Site where alumina and aluminum fluoride were produced from bauxite ore. The bauxite refining process used hot sodium hydroxide in a pressurized digester to separate material from the insoluble bauxite residue known as "red mud." During World War II, red mud was mixed in rotary kilns with limestone and soda ash. The residue from this process is "brown mud." Both forms of bauxite residue were disposed of in the area now known as the North Alcoa Site.

At the beginning of the 20th century bauxite residue was disposed of in a place called Pittsburg Lake. Later it was stored in residue disposal areas that were contained within gypsum berms. Gypsum was a byproduct of Alcoa's manufacturing operations. Bauxite residue and gypsum are the primary waste products remaining at the site.

This site is a Superfund Alternative Approach (SA Approach) site and is not on the National Priority List. Additional information about SA Approach sites is available on the Agency’s Superfund Alternative Approach Web page.

More information about the North Alcoa Superfund Site.

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Summary of the Consent Decree

Under the settlement, the companies and city will perform the selected remedy for Operable Unit 1 (OU-1) to address the accumulation of aluminum smelting waste in surface soils and the associated risks to human health and the environment. The OU-1 selected remedy consists of:

  • consolidating and re-grading waste;
  • constructing a cover over waste within the OU-1 area;
  • constructing, modifying, and replacing surface stormwater controls to manage a 100 year flood event on-site;
  • constructing fencing; and
  • implementing institutional controls.

Along with the Superfund principle that the remedy be protective of human health and the environment, the OU-1 remedy components were selected to enhance potential reuse of this site by the city to develop the largest solar generating station in Illinois, and allow for the potential reuse of a sliver of the site by the Railway as a railspur.

Alcoa contributed pre-design studies to evaluate remedy components and criteria compatible with a solar generating station. EPA Region 5 anticipates that the OU-2 final site remedy will address all remaining soil and ground water contamination concerns at the site.

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Contact information

For more information contact

David Smith-Watts
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

Stuart P. Hersh
Associate Regional Counsel
Region 5
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60604

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