New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced that Novelis Corporation will pay $220,000 to settle natural resource damages claims centering on the company’s aluminum manufacturing facility adjacent to Lake Ontario in Scriba. The settlement relates to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in several areas bordering the Novelis facility, including natural and man-made wetlands, man-made ponds and a stream.
“As trustee of New York State’s natural resources, DEC is responsible for collecting damages and implementing restoration projects whenever natural resources have been injured,” Commissioner Grannis said. “I have made it a priority to maintain a comprehensive statewide Natural Resources Damages program, and the settlement with Novelis provides an opportunity for DEC and the public to work together to develop a plan that will enhance the habitat and wildlife near the Lake Ontario shoreline.”
PCBs are chemicals used as flame-retardants, coolants in industrial processes, and in electrical transformers. An on-site sampling program and file search determined that fire resistant hydraulic fluids containing PCBs had been used by the Alcan Sheet and Plate Company in the 1960s and 1970s and were the source of the contamination. As the current site owner, Novelis is currently implementing a cleanup plan under a separate agreement with DEC to address this pollution.
DEC biologists also determined that the sediments in the pond, marsh, and tributary areas contain levels of PCBs that could affect the growth and survival of sediment-dwelling macroinvertabrates and bioaccumulate in fish and wildlife. This can result in the potential for reduced availability of food for forage species and in reproductive effects in fish, terrestrial wildlife and birds. DEC then began discussions with Novelis to cooperatively resolve its natural resource damages concerns. DEC and Novelis reached an agreement that compensates the state for the negative impacts to the area’s natural resources resulting from the operations at Alcan.
DEC will use $200,000 from the settlement to plan and implement an ecological restoration project. Working with the public and other involved stakeholders, DEC will determine what restoration project or projects will be necessary to compensate for natural resource injuries. An example of an appropriate restoration project could be the creation or purchase and preservation of wetland and other habitat similar to that which was injured. The remaining $20,000 will go towards the administration of DEC’s Natural Resources Damages program.
For more information on NRD and DEC’s NRD program, please visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2411.html .