Alcoa's Massena Plant has hit a road block while attempting to move forward with their $600 million modernization project. The plan can't happen without the cleanup of the Grasse River pollution. The company's proposal to do so is in the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency. But Alcoa say the EPA isn't moving as quickly as they'd hoped. Our Cara Thomas says that's where Senator Charles Schumer is stepping in to help.
MASSENA, N.Y. --Alcoa's Massena plant has the ability to grow and expand through a $600 million modernization project, which will ultimately bring hundreds more jobs to St. Lawrence County. But before that can begin, they're working with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean the Grasse River of pollutants.
John Martin, Alcoa's Location Manager, said, "It's a balance of doing what's right for the environment, at the same time, doing what's right for jobs in the North Country and keeping the economy going strong here."
Alcoa says they've continued to submit plans and revisions to the EPA for approval and now it's just a waiting game. But they're hoping that with Senator Schumer's help they'll be able to speed up the process.
Schumer said, "It's natural for Alcoa to say we want to expand, but if we have this EPA thing hanging over our head in the Grasse River, we can't expand until we get that off our back."
Schumer says it's not unusual for the EPA to move slowly through these processes. But he says the sooner the Grasse River cleanup project is approved, the sooner Alcoa can move forward with their expansion.
"I will do everything I can to prevent bureaucratic red tape from holding up that growth because that's the only thing standing in the way," said Schumer.
He says there is a $200 million proposal on the table that he believes is a fair option. But Alcoa says they need to know the definitive cost of the cleanup project before they can get their modernization plan approved by the board.
"What we need to have is an acceptable solution by March of next year when we take the project to the board," said Martin.
There is also the fear that if the cleanup project costs too much, Alcoa may not be able to afford the modernization plan. Senator Schumer says he plans to light a fire under the EPA to fast track the approval of this project so everything can be resolved soon.