The Washington Department of Ecology and aluminum producer Alcoa Co. on Friday announced an agreement that will lead to dredging of PCB-contaminated sediments from the Columbia River near the Port of Vancouver.
By settling on a consent decree, the two sides took a big step toward commencing cleanup in November, Kim Schmanke, an Ecology spokeswoman, said.
Alcoa, the original owner of the defunct aluminum smelter at the site, and the state announced a plan last year to clean up polychlorinated biphenyls in the river and shoreline. That work is expected to take four months.
In addition to allowing the cleanup to start, the consent decree also says what must be done for Alcoa to be released from future liability for the site.
Alcoa built the aluminum smelter about three miles from downtown Vancouver in 1940. The company closed the smelter in 1985 and sold the operation to Vanalco that year. And in 2002, Vanalco sold to Glencore International, a Switzerland-based trading and supply corporation doing business as Evergreen Aluminum. Evergreen never produced aluminum at the site.
The Port of Vancouver is poised to one day take over the land and develop it for marine and industrial uses. In December, Port commissioners approved buying 218 acres from Alcoa and Evergreen for $48.25 million.
The purchase closing awaits final cleanup.
A public meeting to formally comment on the cleanup and consent decree will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at Clark College's Foster Auditorium.
Copies of the consent decree and earlier documents in the case are available on Ecology's Web site: http://tinyurl.com/3qbbdy.
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