Alcoa, GM Settle New York Pollution Case With Mohawk Tribe

Alcoa Inc. and General Motors Co. agreed to a $21.2 million settlement to rehabilitate a polluted stretch of the St. Lawrence River adjacent to land owned by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

Alcoa will pay $19.4 million, and $18.5 million of that will go toward restoration efforts, the tribe said in a statement today. An additional $1.8 million will come from a 2011 General Motors bankruptcy fund.

About $12 million will be used to restore grasslands, wetlands, fisheries and river access near Massena, New York, along the Canadian border, and $8.4 million will support traditional cultural practices. The tribe and three government agencies will also be reimbursed for their costs.

Discharges from Alcoa and General Motors factories in the region into the St. Lawrence river included polychlorinated biphenyls and other potential carcinogens, according to the statement.

The settlement “will increase public access to fishing, protect wildlife and help to restore the health and economic vitality of the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the statement.

“This is a positive step to bring resolution to the natural resources damages assessment process, and is a win for the community,” Lori Lecker, an Alcoa spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “Alcoa will undertake several ecological and cultural restoration projects, including purchasing approximately 465 acres that will become part of the Coles Creek State Park and Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area.”

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