2012-01-26 / General Stories

Community Advisory Panel To Alcoa Rockdale Operations

Discussion at CAPARO Meeting Focuses on Closure of Two Potlines

The Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa (Rockdale Operations) met just after Alcoa released news that 2 of the 6 idled potlines at Rockdale Operations would be among the aluminum company’s recently announced cost-cutting measures. No local layoffs are anticipated as a result of the closure because the potlines have not been operating. Two related news releases may be found at www.alcoa.com.

Potlines 1 and 2, built in 1952, were closed and dismantled in 2002. The remaining 6 were curtailed in 2008 due to factors including reduced demand for aluminum, a surplus in inventory, and lower prices as set on the London Metals Exchange. The April 9 CAPARO meeting will include a review of trends in aluminum price and inventory.

Potlines 3 and 4, the next oldest, will be dismantled in a process that begins now and will take perhaps 18 months. Each potline occupies two buildings and consists of 144 pots. Pots were lined with carbon, and contaminants built up over years of operation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers pot lining to be hazardous waste. Dismantling will include taking this material to an Alcoa facility in Arkansas for processing. The metal itself has value, so demolition should yield a profit.

Operations at Potlines 5- 8 remain curtailed. Alcoa’s Kenny Waters explained the work routinely performed to keep them for startup if the economy warrants more aluminum production in Rockdale. Workers manage the potable water and sewage treatment facilities for the Alcoa facilities as well as Luminant’s power plants. They provide compressed air for the atomizer and maintain motors and elevators and electrical equipment. They turn on equipment and run it a short while to keep it working, and they paint and do repairs all over the plant.

In other news, Alcoa’s Jim Hodson said there were no reported environmental noncompliances in 2011 and one recordable injury. Rain in recent weeks has filled the ponds in the reclamation area and helped replenish Alcoa Lake, though no one believes the drought is over. The atomizer continues to operate, profitably, and profit was made by the Energy group for a few hours at a time in summer when the demand for electricity was at a peak.

CAPARO will meet again on Monday, April 9, 2012. In addition to an update from Alcoa, a presentation on water will be made by Brad Brunett of Brazos River Authority. The 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. meeting will be held at the Alcoa Lake Training Center in Rockdale. Visitors are welcome. Reservations are encouraged. Contact CAPARO facilitator Diane Sheridan at 800/484-9212 x 4127 or DBSheridan@aol.com. Lexington area residents are also welcome to contact CAP member Margaret Newman at 979-773- 4184.

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