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Alcoa/Lavaca Bay Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan Completed
Date Posted: November 26, 2001A Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan for the Aluminum Company of America’s (Alcoa) Point Comfort Operations (PCO) plant was recently completed. The Alcoa PCO plant is located on the eastern shore of Lavaca Bay along the Texas Gulf Coast, between Houston and Corpus Christi. The plant, which is an aluminum refining and manufacturing facility, has been in operation since 1948. In 1988, after elevated levels of mercury were detected in bay sediments adjacent to the Alcoa facility, the State of Texas issued an order banning the consumption of fish and crabs from parts of Lavaca Bay. Then, in 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the Alcoa PCO site as a Superfund site. Superfund is the Federal government’s program to clean up hazardous waste sites that may endanger public health or the environment. The site is currently one of the largest underwater superfund sites in the nation.
The recently completed Restoration Plan was developed by the natural resource trustees which include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and several State agencies. The Restoration Plan’s goal to is to restore or replace the natural resources lost to contamination from Alcoa’s PCO plant operations. To fulfill this goal, A 720-acre tract of coastal wetlands has been acquired and will become part of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge complex. The property is important habitat for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds as well as endangered whooping cranes. In addition, 70 acres of estuarine marsh along the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge shoreline and 11 acres of oyster reef in Lavaca Bay will be created. As compensation for recreational fishing losses, three fishing piers will be constructed and improvements will be made to three existing boat ramps around Lavaca Bay.