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North Alcoa Site, Operable Unit 1

Site Information
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Janet Pope (pope.janet@epa.gov)
312-353-0628 or 800-621-8431, ext.30628

Remedial Project Manager
Dion Novak (novak.dion@epa.gov)
312-886-4737 or 800-621-8431, ext. 64737


(where to view written records)

U.S. EPA Region 5
Chicago Offices
Superfund Records Center
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
Open 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., weekdays

City Clerk's Office
City of East St. Louis
301 River Park Drive
East St. Louis, IL 62201

East St. Louis Public Library
5300 State St.
East St. Louis, IL 62201

St. Matthew Baptist Church
2908 Louisiana Blvd, East St Louis

EPA Superfund Home Page
Region 5 Superfund
Superfund Frequent Questions
Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry


The North Alcoa site consists of 400 acres located in a mixed use area of East St. Louis. 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. The Mississippi River is three miles to the west of the site. Frank Holten State Park containing several large lakes is east of the site. Fortunately, neither the Mississippi River nor the state park is connected to the site by any surface or underground waterways that could move pollutants.

The city of East St. Louis now owns the North Alcoa site. The city and Alcoa are legally responsible for cleaning up the pollution under EPA oversight.

Manufacturing was occurring on or around the site more than 100 years ago. Operations at the North Alcoa site occurred mostly on the south side of Missouri Avenue where alumina and aluminum fluoride were produced from bauxite ore. The bauxite refining process used hot sodium hydroxide in a pressurized digester to separate material from the insoluble bauxite residue known as "red mud." During World War II, red mud was mixed in rotary kilns with limestone and soda ash. The residue from this process is "brown mud." Both forms of bauxite residue were disposed of north of Missouri Avenue in the area tnow known as the North Alcoa site.

At the beginning of the 20th century bauxite residue was disposed of in a place called Pittsburg Lake. Later it was stored in residue disposal areas or RDAs. The RDAs were contained within gypsum berms. Gypsum was a byproduct of Alcoa's manufacturing operations. Bauxite residue and gypsum are the primary waste products remaining at the site.

There are three large RDAs on the site known as the Old Pond, Brown Pond and Red Pond, each about 40 acres in size. Currently, a thin layer of vegetation and water covers the ponds. The dike in RDA 1 Old Pond was breached sometime in the past and drained to the south. Low-lying areas outside of the RDAs consist of wet spots, while higher ground contains fill material on the surface.

The bauxite residue is soft and not suitable as a foundation for building construction or redevelopment without extensive engineering. Existing sewers in the neighborhood are not capable of accepting any surface water discharges from the property. As a result, all stormwater needs to be managed on-site as part of the cleanup actions. The existing residue ponds would be reconfigured and used as part of the cleanup for stormwater management if EPA's preferred option is approved.

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Site Updates

October 2014

Alcoa began construction of the OU-1 soil cover remedy in March 2014.  This involved the consolidation and regrading of existing waste in the OU-1 site area to be covered with two feet of clean fill.  This work is ongoing and it is anticipated to be completed in summer 2015. 

EPA signed an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) document in October 2014 which describes an addition to the OU-1 site remedy.  This ESD authorizes Alcoa to remove waste material from an approximately 22 acre area in the former city ballfields area to a depth of two feet.  This material contains the same bauxite waste as is currently being covered with the Superfund remedy in OU-1. 

This excavated material will be consolidated in the OU-1 area under the Superfund remedy cover and will reduce the amount of clean fill required to build the remedy by approximately 70,000 yards.  The excavated area will be covered with two feet of clean soil as a temporary measure until the final remedy can be selected for this area.  This work will begin shortly and will take about 45 days to complete.

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