EPA reaches agreement with companies to re-mediate contaminated site in Ravenswood, West Virginia.

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Article courtesy by Donna Heron | November 14, 2012 | Source: EPA

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 14, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today TRC Companies, Inc., TRC Environmental Corp. and Ravenswood Holdings Company, LLC (TRC) have signed an EPA consent order outlining work to be done to prevent releases of cyanide into soil and groundwater for a 2.7 acre site in Ravenswood, W.Va., where a former aluminum manufacturing facility deposited contaminated waste.

The TRC Spent Cathode Storage Pile is located within an active industrial facility at 2/20 County Road in Ravenswood. The spent potliner pile consists of approximately 50,000 cubic yards of waste material and is completely surrounded by two other parcels. The site is completely enclosed by a chain-link fence.

Aluminum smelting waste, contained in the spent potliner pile, accumulated between 1972 and 1980, and was awaiting shipment for mineral recycling. The recycling of this type of waste material subsided in the late 70’s, thus necessitating the need to cover it. The entire waste pile was covered with a polymeric liner in 1981 to prevent contact with storm water, which could leach cyanide compounds in the waste pile into the ground water.

In November 2011, EPAdetermined that the waste material should remain in place and that repair and maintenance of the existing rubber membrane liner should continue until the liner is replaced. The final decision and the consent order require TRC to perform maintenance and comply with required controls to prevent further contamination.

TRC has agreed to repair and maintain the rubber membrane liner to prevent the escape of cyanide from the site.


The Spent Potliner (SPL) Pile is a 2.7-acre, encapsulated deposit of aluminum-smelting wastes located southwest of Ravenswood, West Virginia. The site is completely surrounded by an active aluminum smelting facility (Century Aluminum).


The SPL Pile was originally part of an integrated aluminum manufacturing facility which began operation in 1957 by Kaiser Aluminum. Between 1972 and 1980, spent potliner from the smelting process was stockpiled on concrete and clay pads, awaiting shipment for mineral recycling. An EPDM cover was installed in 1981 to isolate the material from the environment and to prevent contact with rainwater. The site is completely enclosed by a chain-link fence and is located wholly within an active industrial facility.

Contaminants and Risks

SPL was designated by USEPA as a listed hazardous waste under RCRA in 1988. The main contaminants in soil and groundwater are cyanide and fluoride.
[toggle title=”Documents and Reports” height=”auto”]

  • Some of the site’s key documents of interest are accessible below:
  • All documents and reports regarding this facility also can be reviewed in person at these locations:
    West Viriginia Dept of Enviromental Protection
    Division of Waste Management
    601 57th Street, SE
    Charleston, WV 25304
    Phone: (304) 926-0499 ext. 1288
    U.S. EPA Region III
    Land & Chemicals Division – RCRA
    1650 Arch Street-11th Floor
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    (215) 814-3435
    Call for an appointment.

An Administrative Order on Consent requiring investigation of the site was signed by EPA and the owner (Kaiser) on April 3, 1995. In compliance with the order, the following activities have been completed:

  • A RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) was performed to evaluate the impact of the site on surrounding soils and groundwater. The RFI was completed on March 10, 1997.
  • A Part I Corrective Measures Study (CMS) was completed on January 22, 1998, and identified the need for testing of the facility cover.
  • A Part II CMS involved field and laboratory testing of the cover material. The draft CMS Report was submitted to EPA on May 28, 1998.

The draft CMS Report concluded that the most effective option for elimination of risk due to the facility was leaving the material in its present location, performing initial repairs to the seams in the cover, and then continuing to maintain the cover, replacing as necessary.

In 2004, Kaiser divested itself of the SPL Pile as part of bankruptcy proceedings. At that time, TRC Environmental Corporation took ownership of the Spent Potliner Pile.

EPA concurred with the recommended remedy in the CMS Report, and on August 25, 2011 the proposed remedy was put out for public comment. No comments were received during the 30 day public comment period and a Final Decision and Response To Comments (FDRTC) was issued to TRC on November 8, 2011.

The next step in the Corrective Action process is for the selected remedy to be implemented thru an EPA Administrative Consent order with TRC.

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