Alcoa’s profits, the GM site, and Massena after PCB contamination

The former GM site in Massena, as pictured in a brocure from the RACER trust for potential lessors or buyers. Image:

Good morning! Some news this week on Massena and the companies that have polluted it:

Massena has been in the news quite a lot lately, both with respect to some of the problems with crime the town has been having, and to the deal Alcoa struck last week on cleaning up PCBs that the company released into the Grasse River until the 1970s (here’s the EPA’s news release on the approved plan, from last Friday.) As David Sommerstein reported at The Inbox last Friday, Alcoa agreed to invest $600 million and guarantee 900 jobs for 30 years only on condition that the EPA approved this plan. This plan will cost the company $243 million, as opposed to another plan on the table that would have cost Alcoa about $1.3 billion.

David pointed out in that post that Alcoa’s not exactly a small company on the edge of bankruptcy.

Let’s not forget here that Alcoa notched $23.7 billion in sales last year and operates in 30 countries. Alcoa is really big.

On that same note, The Associated Press reported yesterday that Alcoa had reported higher-than-expected first quarter earnings, helped along by a strong demand for aluminum. The company’s net income last quarter was $149 million — that’s up from $94 million at this time last year.

Meanwhile, WWNY-TV reports that “Manufacturing and ‘energy related’ businesses” are eyeing the site of the former General Motors plant in Massena (as you’ll recall, it’s now a Superfund site thanks to GM’s use and disposal of PCBs and other contaminants there.) The company stopped operations in Massena in 2009 (interestingly it’s been a Superfund site since 1984), and it’s expected that cleanup will be finished by early 2016.

This doesn’t seem to be a massively different story than the one David Sommerstein reported in November of last year, but it’s an opportunity to look again at the situation at the former GM plant.

The group that’s conducting that cleanup is the RACER trust, a group that focuses on “cleaning up and positioning for redevelopment former GM properties in 14 US states” (that from the trust’s web site — more on RACER here, and a brochure for the sale or lease of the Massena property here.) An official with the trust wouldn’t provide any more detail than what’s above, but Massena Town Supervisor Joe Gray says the town’s looking at lots of different options, “either for retail or industrial.” He says Massena is “hopeful and looking forward to some progress.”

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