[12/15/21] Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works Smelter To Be Shuttered

Posted in Business & Economy

It was 70 years ago, in 1951 that the Aluminum Corporation of America, Alcoa, began construction of an aluminum smelter in the Malaga area. On Monday, six years after the smelter was closed, Alcoa announced the smelter is being, in its words, “permanently discontinued.” The announcement ends any remaining hope that the 28-hundred acre site, which once employed 400 people and still has three potlines capable of producing 146-thousand metric tons of aluminun, would restart.

In an Alcoa press release, Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey said, quoting here, Our analysis does not support the long-term operation of the Wenatchee smelter, so we are now focused on preparing this site for a new future. We appreciate the support that Alcoa has received from our community stakeholders over these many years, and we look forward to continued work with them to develop a robust redevelopment and reuse plan for the site.” The press release also said that some of the 18 employees who have remained at the Wenatchee Works location will help with demolition and redevelopment.

The decommissioning process is anticipated to cost about $75 million, with $60 million in cash spent over the next seven years, $10 million of which will be spent in 2022, according to the press release

The projected cash outlays do not include what the company could recoup from planned redevelopment efforts.

Redevelopment details for the Wenatchee location have not yet been announced, but the Chelan -Douglas regional Port Authority has some ideas, CEO Jim Kuntz says they’ll work with Alcoa to develop a plan for the site, which is zoned for industrial use. He says the lack of industrially zoned property in Chelan County will make the site appealing. In addition to the acreage, access to wastewater treatment and proximity to high voltage power makes the property attractive.

As for the Chelan County PUD, which has a multi-year contract with Alcoa, PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen said Alcoa’s contract with PUD for the site remains in effect, and as of now, the PUD plans to run the contract to term. The contract expires in 2028.