Green Party candidate questions ALCOA pollution in Massena
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 12:29 pm

To the Editor:

The ALCOA West primary aluminum production facility at Massena, New York releases nearly three thousand tons per year of SO2 into the air.  These are uncontrolled SO2 emissions; ALCOA removed the wet scrubbers that capture SO2 many years ago.

ALCOA West is a major acid rain maker for the Adirondack Mountains. It is upwind of the prevailing West wind for the eastern Adirondacks. When the winds are from the northwest, ALCOA acid impacts the central Adirondacks. 

This acid source is one of the closest heavy polluters to the mountains.

There is a connection between acid precipitation and cancer.  Acidic runoff water leaches carcinogenic metals, including:  mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and nickel from the soil. 

These metals exist at increased concentrations in surface and ground waters due to acid pollution. The New York State Department of Health advisory, “Chemicals in Sportfish and Game," warns against eating fish from many Adirondack ponds and lakes because of mercury contamination.  

Mercury is present in these waters as a result of acidification.  The metal carcinogens listed above contaminate these waters also, regardless of the absence of this information in the DOH advisory. Loons and otter in Cranberry Lake have unhealthy levels of lead in their bodies because they live on contaminated fish.

The fact that ALCOA poisons the most beautiful and most wild part of New York State without any public outcry raises serious questions. If people know about this, why do they choose to do nothing about it? If people don’t know about it, why do they lack this important information?

I believe that people can find the answers to these questions by thinking about what they love. I believe that once people have thought carefully and clearly about what they love most they will begin thinking about how to protect the mountains. I believe that the solution to the ALCOA acid problem will follow close upon their thinking.

Donald L. Hassig, Director Cancer Action NY