Fluoride Action Network

Oregon: The Martin-Marietta Aluminum Co., The Dalles, Wasco County. Superfund site.

From the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality


EPA ID# ORD052221025    EPA Region 10
Wasco County
The Dalles

2nd Congressional District
Last Update:    September, 2007

Site Description

The Martin-Marietta Aluminum Co. site is located in Wasco County, city of The Dalles, Oregon. The 350-acre site is located within an 800-acre area used primarily for heavy industry, manufacturing and agricultural purposes. Martin-Marietta acquired the facility in 1970, from Harvey Aluminum, Inc. and continued aluminum processing operations until 1984, when the plant was shut down. In 1986, Martin-Marietta leased the plant to Northwest Aluminum Company, which operated until 1987. Twenty-eight areas were contaminated as a result: from treatment, storage, and disposal of waste at the site. A 15-acre landfill, now capped, contains approximately 200,000 cubic yards of waste and construction debris, including asbestos, metallic wastes, and 5,000 tons of spent potliner materials (cathode waste) containing cyanide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and arsenic. Leachate (contaminated liquids) moved through landfill masses contaminating groundwater until a collection system was installed. The system collects and transports the liquids outside the landfill for treatment. Also, approximately 64,670 cubic yards of cathode waste material were deposited in the unloading area and the cathode waste management areas, which cover 15 acres and contain contaminated sludge and subsoil. Fewer than 20 homes and businesses are located in the vicinity of the site. The nearest residence is located approximately ¼ mile from the site. Groundwater provides drinking water to 14,000 people in The Dalles and Chenoweth. The wells in the immediate ares are also used for industrial purposes. Because the site is located within the Columbia River flood plain, flooding could have potentially affected groundwater flow patterns and contaminant distribution.

Site Responsibility:    This site has been addressed through federal and potentially responsible parties’ actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Media Affected: Groundwater, Soil & Sludges
Because the site is located within the Columbia River flood plain, flooding potentially affected groundwater. Groundwater on site is contaminated with cyanide and fluoride. Sediments and soil contain cyanide, fluoride, asbestos, PAHs, and arsenic. People who accidentally ingested or came into direct contact with groundwater, soil, and sediments may have been at risk. Exposure to high levels of cyanide harms the brain and heart. Low levels of cyanide may result in breathing difficulties. Exposure to fluoride is usually low and not harmful. High exposures can cause lung, skin and bone damange.

Cleanup Progress

In 1988, EPA selected a two-part cleanup. The potentially responsible parties (PRPs) completed the first and second parts in 1990 and 1991 respectively, under Consent Decrees with EPA. The first part included: excavating the cathode waste material and placing it into a landfill at the site; covering (capping) two ponds where sludge from the facility air pollution control system was collected; and monitoring groundwater. The second part included: capping the landfill; collecting and treating leachate from the landfill and groundwater at the site; abandoning the use of nearby water wells; connecting groundwater users to the city of The Dalles water supply system; establishing a contingency plan to recover groundwater in the event further contamination is detected; and limiting access to the property after cleanup was complete.

In early 1992, an excessive amount of water collected in the leachate collection system around the landfill. The PRPs conducted several studies and construction activities around the landfill in 1992 and 1993, which determined that 1) the cap was operating as designed, and was not allowing surface water into the landfill; and 2) the water in the leachate collection system was infiltrating in from the fractured bedrock beneath the landfill. As a result, in early 1995, Martin Marietta upgraded the leachate treatment system to accommodate additional volume. The PRPs continue to operate and maintain the leachate collection and treatment system, conduct monitoring pursuant to an approved monitoring program and submit periodic monitoring reports to EPA and Oregon DEQ.

The site was deleted from the National Priorities List (NPL) on July 5, 1996.

Every five years, EPA studies whether the remedy continues to protect human health and the environment. Five-Year Reviews have been completed in December 1994, December 1999 and June 2005. The next Five-Year Review is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

Regional Contacts

SITE MANAGER(S):    Harry Craig
E-MAIL ADDRESS:    craig.harry@epa.gov
PHONE NUMBER:    503-326-3689

Information pertaining to this site is housed at the following location(s):
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
400 East Scenic Drive, Building 2
The Dalles, OR 97058

EPA Region 10 Superfund Records Center (Administrative Records)
1200 Sixth Avenue, ECL-076
Seattle, WA 98101