Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Welcome to the Grasse River remediation site. This online resource provides both technical detail and answers to commonly asked questions for the Grasse River area community. If this is your first time visiting, these points should provide a quick overview to the project and its key details.

Why is a cleanup of the Grasse River necessary?

Elevated levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) have been found in the Grasse River. PCBs were historically used in many hydraulic and other systems, as was common in many industrial companies and processes across the nation during the 1950s and 1960s. The EPA found that consumption of fish with elevated PCBs levels from the Grasse River presented a potential risk. There is currently an “eat no fish” NYSDOH advisory on the Grasse River from the Power Canal down to the mouth where it enters the St. Lawrence.

Read more about the project in the project overview.

What is the Superfund program?

EPA began the Superfund program in 1980 to eliminate potential threats to human health and the environment from hazardous substances that had been released as a result of historic disposal practices. The EPA works closely with communities, the companies responsible for the releases, scientists, researchers, contractors, and state, local, tribal, and federal authorities.

See more about the history of this process in the project timeline.

Where is the Grasse River in this process?

On April 5, 2013, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Grasse River which outlines the cleanup plan that Arconic will implement. The ROD is consistent with the plan proposed in October 2012. The plan calls for dredging of some near-shore sediments, capping in the main channel, and armored capping in ice scour prone sections of the river. The plan is estimated to cost approximately $240 million, and take an estimated four construction seasons to implement once in-river construction begins.

The ROD is available at EPA’s website. (By clicking this link, you will leave the Alcoa Grasse River Project website.)

What are the next steps? What year do we expect to let the bids?

Arconic is undertaking two important construction activities in 2017 to prepare for future in-river remediation work. These activities include expanding the existing Secure Landfill located on the Arconic Massena West site and construction of a land-based staging area near the Route 131 bridge. The staging area will be used to unload sediments dredged from the near-shore areas of the river and to load clean capping and backfill materials that will be placed in the river during the in-water portion of the remediation work. The landfill and staging area construction is slated to begin in spring 2017 and continue through early 2018.

Through a competitive bidding process that included local companies, Arconic selected engineering firm Tetra Tech to perform the landfill expansion and Massena-based contractor, Perras Environmental, to perform the staging area construction. Local companies have been included in the bid lists for the project, and we have made bidders aware of local businesses that may be able to provide support to the project.

A final design for the in-river portion of the project is still under development and no start date has been determined. It is estimated that it will take four construction seasons to implement the remediation project once the in-river work begins.

How will the transport of material from the staging area to the landfill impact traffic along the Alcoa Road during 2017 construction?

In 2017 additional traffic will occur between the staging area and the Arconic West Plant on County Route 42 and Dennison Crossroad. Trucks will primarily be used to transport materials from the staging area to the Massena West facility. Arconic is working with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and local officials to assure minimal impact to the community:

  1. Signs will be installed as part of the construction activities.
  2. County Route 42 will be widened in the eastbound direction to provide a truck turn lane. This will minimize delays for construction traffic waiting to approach the staging area and improve overall traffic flow and safety.
  3. Truck drivers will participate in training sessions to understand project and traffic requirements.

Will I being able to use the river for recreational activities during the 2017 construction work?

Arconic is working with the contractor and local authorities to limit the impact of construction to residents. All 2017 work, except for environmental monitoring activities, will be done from the land. We do not expect this work to impact recreational boating.

How will dust be controlled during 2017 construction?

The selected contractor will be required to develop and implement a dust control plan during the work. Continuous air monitoring will be conducted during construction activities.

What about noise and light during the 2017 construction activities?

2017 activities will be conducted in the daylight hours. Arconic will work with the selected contractor to minimize noise impacts on the community.

What is habitat assessment?

The process of studying the plant and animal life that lives in the river to determine how it uses the resource so that usage can be taken into consideration in the design of the habitat restoration component of the remediation project.

What is habitat restoration/reconstruction?

Elements will be incorporated into the project design to support re-establishment of plants and animals that live in the river following the completion of the cleanup. Specific examples include restoring near shore area to pre-cleanup depth, re-planting aquatic vegetation in certain areas, and using materials of construction in the cap and backfill materials that can be re-colonized by aquatic organisms.

What about the sturgeon?

Arconic is in discussion with the regulatory agencies on what specific measures will need to be taken to protect sturgeon.

Where can I find out if the river in front of my property will be affected?

Arconic is committed to keeping local property owners and other stakeholders informed about the progress of the Grasse River remediation project via this website and other communications. See the map showing the general areas to be remediated per EPA’s ROD. The exact remediation areas are still being determined as part of Arconic’s design efforts and may be refined over the next year. We will provide additional information once these areas have been finalized. Property owners may also contact Bruce Cook at 315-323-1924 with questions or concerns.

How many jobs will 2017 will the Grasse River remediation project create?

The landfill and staging work that is beginning in spring 2017 is expected to create nearly 60 part-time and full-time jobs in the local community, and approximately 30 non-local jobs. The number of jobs associated with the in-river portion of the remediation project won’t be known until the final project design is complete.

Once the project is complete will the staging area/boat ramp become public property?

A portion of the staging area will become public property. There will be a boat ramp and floating pier, an elevated deck for fishing, and public parking for vehicles and boat trailers.

Will there be a viewing area for the public to see the work being done once the in-river work begins?

The in-river portion of the remediation project will take place over a seven mile section of the river; therefore a permanent viewing structure would not be feasible. Arrangements will be made for major stakeholders to observe work during the project.