Cleanup of North Alcoa site in East St. Louis subject of public meeting Tues. night

Apr 17, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public meeting tonight in East St. Louis. 

The agency will to explain its proposed plan to clean up the North Alcoa site. The property is bounded on the north by Lake Drive, on the east by the Alton and Southern railroad, on the south by Missouri Avenue and on the west by 29th Street.

EPA's remedial project manager for the 400-acre site, Dion Novak, says the area is contaminated with waste products produced over 100 years ago by a former alumina refinery.

Those include bauxite, gypsum, lead, and radioactive materials.

"The main hazards, the main risks from exposure to those contaminants that I just mentioned are from touching them," Novak said.

Novak says exposure to some of those contaminants can cause cancer over the long term.

In this first phase of the cleanup, EPA is proposing to fence part of the site and cover it with two feet of soil. Runoff water would be directed into on-site ponds, and there would be some restrictions on future development.

“The purpose of doing all these things is to make sure that once we design this cover and put it in place that it stays in place, protective over the long term,” Novak said.

Novak says the proposed plan would cost $24.2 million, to be paid for by Alcoa and the City of East St. Louis.

The meeting to discuss that plan starts at 7 p.m. tonight in East St. Louis City Hall. The public has until May 11 to submit comments.