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Alcoa casthouse fire investigation continues

Keywords: Tags  Alcoa, Massena West, aluminum, casthouse, fire, billet, P1020 sow, cast rod union

NEW YORK — Alcoa Inc. continues to investigate the cause of a late-March fire that forced it to halt billet and cast rod production at its Massena West facility in upstate New York.

"The investigation is ongoing," an Alcoa spokeswoman told AMM, declining to comment further.

A source familiar with the investigation said company management and members of the United Steelworkers union are involved in the process.

"It’s a continuation of the investigation that took place immediately after the fire. It’s a review of what they looked at, to see if there’s anything (they) missed," the source said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also conducting its own investigation, a spokesman for the agency told AMM.

"We opened the investigation on March 30 and have returned a couple of times since," he said, declining to comment further.

Participants hope the investigation will shed more light on the cause of the March 29 casthouse fire, which Alcoa said was caused by a chip melter (AMM, April 2).

The facility’s smelter, which has a nameplate capacity of around 135,000 tonnes per year, was not impacted by the fire, and it continues to produce molten metal, a portion of which is being cast into P1020 sow (AMM, April 5). In addition to increasing sow production, Alcoa has boosted the amount of the molten metal it sends to Novelis Inc.’s Oswego rolling mill, AMM understands (AMM, April 9).

All of the Massena West casthouse employees continue to work during the outage, the spokeswoman said. "At this point, there have not been any layoffs," she said.

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