RAVENSWOOD- The federal Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Century Aluminum to cleanup sections of its Ravenswood facility used for the storage and disposal of hazardous materials that were byproducts of aluminum production.
According to the EPA, cleanup is needed at the facility on Century Road near Ravenswood where soil and groundwater are contaminated with cyanide, fluoride, lead, arsenic and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), said EPA spokeswoman Donna Heron in a press release.
''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,'' Heron wrote.
Under the EPA's order, 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 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.
The order restricts using groundwater beneath the property for drinking water. Using the property for any purpose other than industrial is prohibited unless it is demonstrated there is no threat to human health or the environment.
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 former Kaiser plant was sold in 1989 to Ravenswood Aluminum Corp., which later changed its name to Century Aluminum of West Virginia. In February 2009, Century Aluminum shut down the aluminum production operation because of the low demand for aluminum.
In a phone interview Thursday, Heron said the problem stems from the time Kaiser was operating the plant.
The EPA is waiting on a plan from Century to address its concerns, she said. Once that plan is in place and approved by the EPA and the state's environmental protection agency, timelines will be made on when work will be done, she said.
The company is planning to comply with the EPA's order.
''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,'' said company spokesman Mike Dildine.
Over the last year, negotiations have been ongoing to try to get the facility operational again. Efforts hit a stalemate last fall when company officials could not get approval for a special power rate for the plant from the Public Service Commission.
Company officials have said getting the plant operational again remains a priority.
The current cleanup efforts should have no effect on those efforts.
''The EPA finding has no impact on Century's intention of restarting the Ravenswood smelter,'' Dildine said.