Alcoa Ltd.: environmental performance agreement overview

Note: This agreement is no longer in effect.

This environmental performance agreement (the agreements) was in effect from May 22nd 2008 to December 31st 2009.

For a copy of the agreement, email: ec.epa-epe.ec@canada.ca

Objective

The objective of this agreement is to set environmental performance objectives with respect to atmospheric emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from Alcoa Ltd.'s Söderberg plant in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. The agreement sets out a timeline for achieving the objectives and calls for the development of a continuous improvement plan, annual reporting on progress made, and verification of the achievement of the objectives by an independent expert.

Signatories

The agreement was negotiated between Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Alcoa Ltd.

Key requirements

By signing the agreement, Alcoa agreed to develop an action plan for its Söderberg plant and to update it yearly, to work towards reducing atmospheric emissions of PAHs, and to meet the environmental performance objectives of the agreement. The parties to the agreement agreed to assess the ambient air monitoring activities in place within 12 months of the signing of this agreement and, if necessary, to propose possible ways of improvement.

Performance results

The performance objective established for 2008 and described in the appendix to this agreement was achieved for the Baie-Comeau, Quebec, facility. 

In March 2008, the company announced its intention to replace its Söderberg pots with pots using prebake technology by 2015, which will eliminate PAH emissions from the potrooms. Furthermore, on November 10, 2008, the company announced the permanent shutdown of one of its three Söderberg potlines. Although this will not directly impact the attainment of the environmental performance objective described in the agreement (0.25 kilograms of PAHs per tonne of aluminum produced), the closure will significantly reduce annual PAH emissions (in kilograms of PAHs per year) by around 30%. This will also advance the modernization project announced in March by a year.

The following table compares the facility’s performance data (in kilograms of PAHs per tonne of aluminum produced) against the performance objectives set out in the agreement and performance data for reference year 2005.

The facility’s (Baie-Comeau) performance data (0.25), in kilograms of PAHs per tonne of aluminum produced, against the performance objectives set out in the agreement (0.25) and performance data for reference year 2005 (0.38).

PAH Emissions (in kilograms per tonne of aluminum)

Facility

Performance Objectives for 2008

Performance of the Facility in 2009*

Performance of the Facility in 2008

Performance of the Facility in 2005

Baie-Comeau

0.25

0.21

0.25

0.38

* The company has chosen to continue with the performance verification process beyond the end of the agreement.   

Ambient air monitoring activities

Alcoa Ltd. has started the assessment of its ambient air monitoring activities. This assessment is jointly conducted with ECCC representatives. In the past, PAHs were measured at two monitoring stations, but it was suggested that a third station be added. A location was found for the station, and equipment was chosen. This new ambient air monitoring station has been in operation since 2009.

Action plan and annual report

As set out in the agreement, Alcoa Ltd. has provided its action plan to ECCC. The plan identifies 20 actions that the company has undertaken in order to meet the environmental performance objective set out in the agreement. Although the agreement has ended, the company plans to maintain these actions until the end of the modernization process.

The company presented its annual report describing the results achieved under the agreement.

Monitoring committee

The parties agreed that the Multistakeholder Committee on PAHs will act as the monitoring committee as set out in the agreement. The Multistakeholder Committee on PAHs is composed of representatives from Alcoa; the city of Baie-Comeau; the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Côte-Nord; the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs; the workers’ union of the Baie-Comeau plant; and a regional environmental non-governmental organization. A representative from ECCC was added to the committee.

The monitoring committee met on May 20, 2009. The purpose of the meeting was to present elements of Alcoa’s annual report, present the recognized expert’s report and discuss the format and content of the public report.

The last meeting of the committee was on June 18, 2010. At this occasion, Alcoa submitted its last action plan and ECCC presented to the company a letter of acknowledgement.

Verification results

The firm STS Canada was selected to verify the performance of the above-mentioned plant in the reference year of the agreement (2005) and the achievement of the environmental performance objective for 2008 as set out in the appendix to the agreement.

This extensive verification includes, among other things, a review of the methods and protocols for sampling and analysis, PAH emission levels, production levels, and the implementation of measures or activities set out in the agreement.

The verification report for the Baie-Comeau facility was submitted on May 20, 2009. The conclusion of this report is available on demand.

Alcoa Ltd has implemented all of the recommendations resulting from this report.

In 2009, Alcoa Ltd had voluntarily chosen to continue with the performance verification process beyond the end of the agreement.

Background information

PAHs have been determined to be toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. They represent a group of over 100 chemicals emitted mainly by wood-burning appliances, forest fires and aluminum smelters.

This agreement was drafted in recognition of Alcoa Ltd.'s commitment to reduce air emissions of PAHs from its old Söderberg aluminum smelter by pursuing alternative practices or technologies. The Söderberg technology is the main source of industrial emissions of PAHs in Canada.

Public consultations on the draft agreement took place in 2007 in the communities affected. The draft agreement was posted on ECCC’s website for a 60-day public consultation period, which ended on May 10, 2007.

In accordance with ECCC’s public consultation policy, the proposed performance agreement between ECCC and Alcoa. Ltd was published on the ECCC’s website, to allow the public to send comments between March 27 and May 10, 2007. Only one comment was received and it was taken into consideration in developing the final agreement.

All comments for this proposed agreement were received by ECCC and were taken into consideration in developing the final agreement.

Related information

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