The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Century Aluminum of West Virginia to develop an updated cleanup plan for a former industrial facility in Ravenswood, West Virginia, that was used for the storage and disposal of hazardous materials that were byproducts of aluminum production.
EPA is currently overseeing cleanup activities at the site, where soil and groundwater is contaminated with cyanide, fluoride, lead, arsenic and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Cleanup work includes restoration of contaminated groundwater to drinking water standards and to control human and environmental exposure to hazardous wastes in the soil that remain in place at the plant.
Under the order, the company must develop a plan, known as a materials management plan, that identifies specific locations at the plant where contaminants remain, and put in place procedures and safeguards for any future construction or excavation in those areas. The plan must be approved by EPA and the West Virginia Department of the Environmental Protection. The plan must include a health and safety section for the safety of workers and contractors doing excavation or construction work in these known contaminated areas.
The order also restricts using groundwater beneath the property for drinking water. Using the property for any purpose other than industrial is prohibited unless it is demonstrated that there is no threat to human health or the environment.
Aluminum production began at the site in 1957 when Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation began operations. The facility included a plant that produced aluminum from alumina ore, and a plant that produced plate and coil aluminum alloy. The former Kaiser plant was sold in 1989 to Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation, which later changed its name to Century Aluminum of West Virginia. In 1999, Century Aluminum sold 500 acres of the facility to Pechiney Rolled Products, but Century Aluminum retained the plant that produces aluminum, which covered approximately 350 acres. In February 2009, Century Aluminum shut down the aluminum production operation due to the low demand for aluminum.