State report lists wide price range for cleanup of former Reynolds site

State report lists wide price range for cleanup of former Reynolds site

Source:, June 2, 2014
By: Brooks Johnson

For the first time, state officials have estimated the costs of cleaning up the old Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum site in Longview: Depending on the option chosen, the price tag could be a whopper.

Cleaning up the 416-acre site — contaminated by 60 years of aluminum production — could approach $350 million but also could cost as little as $2.3 million, state officials said in a draft cleanup plan issued Monday. A “preferred” plan would cost nearly $28 million.

The study found high levels of fluoride, cyanide and poisonous hydrocarbons in the soil as well as a high concentration of fluoride in the groundwater and Columbia River sediment — runoff from six decades of aluminum production.

That the site is badly contaminated is no surprise: Previous assessments have found the site to be polluted. Monday’s study was the first time anyone has assigned a cost to the cleanup.

The state Department of Ecology has oversight on the cleanup. The cost, through, will be paid by Millennium Bulk Terminals, which owns the site buildings and equipment, and Alcoa, which owns the land.

Millennium wants to build a 44 million-ton coal export terminal at the site, which Alcoa bought in 2000 and Millennium began leasing in 2011.

The next step is to identify which options — such as capping or removing contaminants or installing a filtering barrier — are best for the site where Reynolds smelted aluminum from 1941 to 2000. Digging up contaminated soils and contaminants and disposing of them in an approved landfill is by far the most costly option.

Six options for cleanup are outlined in the study, ranging from $2.3 million to $344 million. Department of Ecology industrial manager Garin Schrieve said a $27.7 million plan is the preferred alternative, though public comment will help steer that.

Ecology will host an open house at the Cowlitz PUD auditorium in Longview from 4 to 7 p.m. June 18, and a hearing at the Kelso Red Lion will follow at 4 p.m. July 16. Comments on the plan will be taken through Aug. 1. The plan can be viewed at the state Department of Ecology website.

The agency said the discussions are strictly for cleanup and have nothing to do with whether Millennium gets permission to build a coal terminal there. The site must be cleaned up one way or another. (The contamination is not a threat to the city of Longview’s drinking water supply, which comes from the deep aquifer hundreds of feet below the surface, according to city consultants.)

Following the hearings, a work plan will be put together and another round of public comment will open in 2015, with work starting soon after and likely completed by 2017.

“Sometimes the front-end things take a long time, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting them done right,” Ecology spokesperson Linda Kent said.

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