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GLIN==> Dredging of contaminated St. Lawrence River sediments is underway

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- Region 2
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
290 Broadway - New York, New York  10007-1866
www.epa.gov/region2   Rich Cahill - (212) 637-3666


FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

(#01071) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- More cleanup work is underway in the St. Lawrence
River as the project to dredge more than 77,000 cubic yards of
chemically-contaminated river sediments adjacent to the Reynolds Metals
Company (RMC) facility in Massena, New York has begun and is scheduled to be
completed this November.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
will oversee the $47 million Superfund cleanup, which will be financed by
the company and conducted by its contractors.  The RMC facility is an active
aluminum production plant at which past operations caused chemical
contamination of the plant property and the adjacent river sediments with
primarily polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  The New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is overseeing separate cleanup work
that addresses contamination on the RMC property.  EPA and the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers will be on-site full time to oversee the work, and
conduct independent monitoring of the cleanup progress.  The NYSDEC, St.
Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Canadian government will also monitor the
dredging work and take independent samples.

EPA and its technical support team, along with representatives from NYSDEC,
the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and RMC are holding a public information session
on June 28, 2001 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Akwesasne Housing
Authority Building.

PCBs are oily chemicals, once used for coolants in electrical equipment,
that can enter the body through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion. EPA
has determined that PCBs cause cancer in laboratory animals and probably
cause cancer in humans.  Other serious health effects have been observed in
animals exposed to PCBs. The greatest health risk is associated with the
ingestion of PCB-contaminated fish caught in the St. Lawrence River by
residents and anglers.  The New York State Department of Health has issued a
fish consumption advisory for the area of the river impacted by the
contamination that is still in effect.

"This is another significant action in EPA's overall strategy for addressing
contaminated sediments in the St. Lawrence River in the vicinity of
Massena," Acting EPA Regional Administrator William J. Muszynski said. "EPA
believes that its coordinated approach, which involves EPA, state, tribal,
and Canadian efforts at the Reynolds, General Motors and Aluminum Company of
America facilities in Massena, will result in a notable improvement in the
health of the St. Lawrence River and greater protection of local
communities," he added.

The cleanup will involve the dredging of river sediments in over 30 acres of
the river bottom that are contaminated with several chemicals, including
PCBs above 1 part per million (ppm).  The most contaminated section of the
river bottom is the area closest to the plant.  After dredging, contaminated
sediments with PCB levels below 50 ppm will be safely disposed of on-site.
Sediments with PCB levels between 50 and 500 ppm, will be shipped off-site
for disposal at an approved landfill.  The most contaminated dredged
material, with PCB levels above 500 ppm, will be sent to an appropriate
off-site facility for treatment.  This plan differs from the original remedy
EPA selected in 1993, which called for the on-site treatment and/or disposal
of all the contaminated dredged sediments.

In the first phase of the dredging project, Reynolds installed sheet piling
around the area to be dredged to prevent the movement of sediments
downstream during dredging.  The company will also place sensors around the
perimeter of the work area to identify any impacts to water quality and to
alert EPA to any problems with
the dredging.  The use of the sensors will enable corrective measures,
including stopping work, to be taken if necessary.

Under a 1989 EPA Superfund Administrative Order, the company initiated a
number of investigations into the extent and nature of chemical
contamination in the portion of the St. Lawrence River, which borders the
RMC facility.  The investigation showed that PCBs and other contaminants
were present in the St. Lawrence River sediment near the RMC facility at
concentrations that pose a threat to human health and wildlife.


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