LONDON Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. will pay $19.4 million toward the cleanup of a stretch of the St. Lawrence River in New York resulting from the release of hazardous substances from its Massena operations since at least the late 1950s.
The case was brought against Pittsburgh-based Alcoa; Reynolds Metals Co., which has been owned by Alcoa since 2000; and Detroit-based General Motors Co.s former Central Foundry plant. The polluted section of the river is adjacent to land owned by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.
"Polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aluminum, fluoride and cyanide adversely affected natural resources within the surrounding environment and contaminated the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, degrading natural resources used for traditional cultural practices," the U.S. Commerce Departments National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, the U.S. Department of the Interiors Fish and Wildlife Service, New York States Department of Environmental Conservation and the NOAA have "solicited restoration project ideas and developed a restoration plan to address injured natural and cultural resources and address lost human uses of natural resources, such as recreational fishing," the NOAA said.
The settlement includes more than $10 million for a variety of ecological restoration projects, $8.4 million to support traditional Mohawk cultural practices, and nearly $2 million to improve boating access to rivers in the Massena area.
The settlement also includes reimbursement for costs. The money from Alcoa for its and Reynolds liability will be combined with $1.8 million in restoration funds from a 2011 GM bankruptcy settlement.
"This settlement gives us the opportunity to restore some facets of that relationship to contemporary Mohawk culture, especially in terms of the relationship between elders and younger community members," St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief Randy Hart said in a statement.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.