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Alcoa, Ecology agree on plan to comply with new air quality standards

Take a tour of the Intalco aluminum smelter on its’ 50th anniversary

Tour the Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter west of Ferndale, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. The smelter is celebrating its' 50th anniversary.
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Tour the Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter west of Ferndale, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. The smelter is celebrating its' 50th anniversary.

Alcoa’s aluminum smelter near Ferndale is on track to install equipment that will meet tougher air quality standards by reducing sulfur dioxide releases by the end of 2022.

Following a public comment period Intalco Works and the Washington State Department of Ecology signed off on a plan to install a wet scrubber to reduce emissions of the gas, which is known for a sharp smell and causing breathing and other health issues.

According to the agreed order signed July 25, design work is scheduled to begin next year with construction starting in January 2022. It’s scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, 2022.

In an announcement made earlier this year, Alcoa estimated the project will cost $15 million.

The reason for this equipment is to address the sulfur dioxide levels in the area west of Ferndale. Years were spent monitoring the concentrations of sulfur dioxide in order to comply with updated federal air quality standards. In an earlier news release, Ecology said it did not believe the pollution levels found near Intalco posed a threat to residents of nearby communities.

“However, people living or working close to the plant may have been exposed to short-term levels that exceed federal standards meant to protect public health,” according to the news release.

Installing the equipment is not expected to impact production at the smelter. In May the facility employed 700 people.

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