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Alcoa applies for modernization permits from state DEC

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MASSENA - Alcoa has applied for the environmental permits required to complete a modernization of its Massena operations.

The public can comment on the proposed permits through Sept. 21, according to Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Steve Litwhiler. The three permits are for the regulation of air and water pollution from Massena’s two aluminum plants should Alcoa decide to modernize them.

He emphasized the modernization was still “proposed.” Alcoa is lining up the permits necessary in the event it decides to modernize down the road.

Alcoa’s board of directors ultimately will decide whether to commit to the modernization by March 31, 2013, and local staff are using the time between now and then to hammer out the details and make Massena as attractive as possible to corporate. Alcoa’s commitment to modernization could ensure the company’s future here for decades to come.

In order to continue receiving low-cost hydro power from the New York Power Authority, Alcoa must invest at least $600 million in the modernized plant. The project will cost more than that, Plant Manager John Martin previously said.

Alcoa already has environmental permits for its existing facilities, but needs to modify them if it chooses to modernize its Massena operations, Mr. Litwhiler said.

“They’ve asked us for these modifications,” Mr. Litwhiler said. “They are changing their technology. They’re upgrading. They’re becoming more efficient.”

“We need to know what processes they’re going to be using,” he added.

The speed at which the DEC would issue modified permits would depend on the public comment received, Mr. Litwhiler said.

“If there’s not substantive comment, they can be issued after the comment period,” Mr. Litwhiler said.

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