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EPA orders Century cleanup at Ravenswood

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Century Aluminum of West Virginia to develop an updated cleanup plan for a former industrial facility in Ravenswood that was used for the storage and disposal of hazardous materials that were byproducts of aluminum production.

In a statement issued June 5, the EPA said it is currently overseeing cleanup activities at the site, where soil and groundwater are 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.

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.

Century Spokesman Mike Dildine said Century Aluminum Company of West Virginia has reviewed the EPA finding and will fully comply with the corrective measures set forth in the consent order.

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, according to the EPA statement.

Aluminum production began at the site in 1957 when Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. began operations. The facility included a plant that produced aluminum from alumina ore and a plant that produced plate and coil aluminum alloy. The property now is owned by Century Aluminum. Century Aluminum ceased operations at Ravenswood in 2009.