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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Reynolds Metals Company in Massena, New York

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status 

In January 1992, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued a Record of Decision for the remediation of six area operable units at Reynolds. During the investigations, a number of conditions required Interim Remedial Measures (IRMs), and these were implemented. These included:

Diversion of Outfall 002 for treatment of collected waters;

  • excavation of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated material from the Outfall 002 Ditch;
  • excavation and discontinuement of Outfall 004;
  • covering and containing the North Yard, with a treatment system installed; and
  • excavation of the West Ditch.

The contaminated sediments in the St. Lawrence River have been addressed through Federal and potentially responsible parties' actions. In November 1989, the EPA issued a unilateral order to Reynolds requiring the facility to investigate the contamination in the surrounding river system. The final cleanup remedy, which was selected by EPA in 1993, included dredging contaminated sediment, then treating the majority of the sediments (with levels of PCB higher than 50 ppm) by thermal desorption on-site.

Waste left from treatment and untreated sediment with levels of polychlorinated biphenyls under 50 ppm will be disposed on-site in the landfill. Reynolds began the design of this remedy in the fall of 1993. EPA modified the cleanup plan to allow for off-site disposal rather than on-site treatment of the dredged sediments. The first phase of cleanup actions, including the dredging of the most highly contaminated sediments, began in the spring of 2001 and were completed in the fall 2001.

While the dredging removed more than 99 percent of the PCB-contaminated sediment in the St. Lawrence River, federal cleanup standards were not met in all areas. Contaminated areas were covered with an engineered underwater cap. EPA will evaluate further sampling data in order to determine how best to complete the cleanup of the targeted area.

In March 1993, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued a Remedial Design/Remedial Action Consent Order. NYSDEC determined that the best way to achieve the remedial action objectives would be to excavate contaminated wastes, sediments and soils. Site-wide remedial action began in 1994, but could not be completed until Reynolds finished the St. Lawrence River dredging remediation project. As of November 2002, the landfill has been closed and remediation at all land-based areas of concern has been completed. 

Site Description

The Reynolds Metals Company is located at 194 County Route 45 in Massena, New York. The facility has been an active aluminum production plant since 1958. The 1,600-acre facility is bordered on the north by the St. Lawrence River and on the south by the Raquette River. The city of Cornwall, Ontario, is two miles north of the facility, and the Village of Massena is eight miles to the east of the facility. The immediate surrounding area is all industrial facilities. Local water bodies are used recreationally and for sustenance fishing. A 170-acre wetland is located on the site. 

Reynolds submitted a RCRA Part A permit application for a container storage area and a tank treatment system. The facility submitted a facility closure plan on January 2, 1986, and the plan was published for public review and comment in September 1987. The facility received closure certification in December 1990. Reynolds does not currently have any operating units that manage hazardous waste as a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility. 

Contaminants at this Facility

Various types of industrial wastes were disposed of throughout the site, creating contamination in the groundwater, soils and subsurface soils. The primary contaminants are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, cyanide, phenols, sulfate, fluoride and metals. Before the remediation was completed, an evaluation was conducted to identify the potential public health impacts associated with migration of contaminants from the site.

The evaluation found several potential human exposure paths that could impact public health. The primary exposure route of concern was the consumption of biota that have bioaccumulated contaminants, particularly in off-site water bodies. In 1983 a health advisory was issued for the St. Lawrence River, still in effect, that restricted the consumption of fish from the river. Other potential exposures from this site include on-site workers or off-site residents coming into contact with, ingesting, or breathing contaminants. There are no residences in the immediate vicinity of this plant.

Based on the groundwater monitoring done so far and the successful operation of a leachate collection system, there is no indication that contaminated groundwater is discharging to surface water bodies. 

Site Responsibility at this Facility

The New York State is responsible for corrective action at the facility and the legal instrument is an Order on Consent ECL Article 27 Title 13 and ECL Article 71 Title 27.

The facility permit status is certified closed. Reynolds is presently considered to be a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulated large quantity generator.