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Cleanup set to begin this month at Reynolds Metals site in Longview

By Sydney Brown, The Daily News
Published: April 21, 2023, 7:44am

LONGVIEW — Efforts to handle decades of contamination at a former aluminum production plant on Industrial Way will begin this month, officials say.

The Department of Ecology is working with Northwest Alloys — the property owners of the former Reynolds Metals site in Longview — to finish an estimated $27.7 million cleanup project that would treat soil contamination and work to keep chemicals from running into nearby waterways.

This cost was an estimate from October 2018, so the specific expenses have likely changed since then. Alcoa, which owns Northwest Alloys, said in a statement this project marks a “collaborative effort to return the site to productive use for the benefit of the tax base and community.”

Garin Schrieve, cleanup project manager with the Department of Ecology, said the crews will work on excavating and consolidating the site throughout the next two years. They hope to finish by early fall 2024, he said.

“The issues out on this site were six decades of heavy industrial operations, especially in the 1940s, (which) have left behind a legacy of soil and groundwater contamination,” Schrieve said.

Aluminum production ceased in the early 2000s, Schrieve said, but left behind potentially hazardous amounts of fluoride in some of the groundwater site.

Fluoride in small doses provides bone and teeth protection, but too much of the natural mineral can lead to higher risk of brittle bones later.

“We want to keep the fluoride from flowing into the ditch,” Shrieve said.

Millennium Bulk Terminals, the original operators of the site, filed for bankruptcy in January 2021 and withdrew from its lease with Alcoa, according to the ecology department’s website.

Alcoa’s Northwest Alloys then took over operations at the facility, which has since served as a storage and transportation depot for bulk materials at 4209 Industrial Way.

The state requested cleanup efforts to address contamination and got the OK in December 2018. Northwest Alloys started to take down some of the buildings on the 510-acre site in June; it will keep its road sand dock, rail loading areas and storage silos.