Reynolds Metals – Massena, New York

East Plant 50th Anniversary Reynolds 1959-Alcoa 2009

June 14, 1957  Ground is broken for the Reynolds Metals Company St. Lawrence Reduction Plant.  Reynolds chose the location because of the abundant supply of competitively-priced hydropower and next-door customer General Motors.  The Massena plant was an outgrowth of RMC's 1940 decision to become the nation's second producer of primary aluminum, a move hailed as "dramatic".  The plant's construction cost is estimated at $88 million.

July 9, 1959  First metal is delivered to GM, which received molten metal by truck for use in a variety of cast automotive applications.

August, 1959  Plant is completed.  Approximately 19 million pounds of aluminum was used in the plant's construction.  The 123,000 metric ton-capacity plant covers 20 acres on a 165-acre parcel.  The reduction cells, known in industry lingo as "pots", are arranged in six 1,400-foot-long potrooms.  Each of three "potlines" contains 168 pots or reduction cells, connected in a single electrical circuit.

Line 1-energized June 1, 1959;  first molten metal tapped on June 28, 1959.
Line 2-energized March 10, 1960;  first molten metal tapped on April 26, 1960.
Line 3-energized February 12, 1962;  first molten metal tapped on April 11, 1962.

February, 1965  1 billion pounds of molten aluminum produced.

1971  Casthouse is expanded in order to service GM five days a week.

1972  Twin Rivers Federal Credit Union begins as a joint venture between salaried and hourly employees (in 1985 the credit union moved to downtown Massena, although a branch remained at the plant until 2003).

1973  $17.5 million environmental control system installed.

August 1976  Plant record of 1,192,792 safe man hours worked without a lost time accident, ends.

1977  Plant earns National Safety Council's Award of Merit for the fourth consecutive year.

1979  Digital computer system installed to control pot voltage.

1980  A casthouse adjacent to Metal Services is erected with two homogenizing furnaces, #4 Loma saw and two 140,000-pound furnaces and a vertical casting pit.

July 17, 1980  One billionth pound of aluminum is shipped to GM.

January, 1981  5 billion pounds of molten aluminum produced.

Early 1980's  A separate Quality Assurance department is created, responsible for finished goods inspection, physical product testing, auditing and other customer activities.

1981  Rectifier transformers are converted from water-to air-cooled, significantly reducing the plant's water usage.

1984  Plant earns an award for quality, safety, production and cost control;  all employees receive a gift.

1991  New Foundry Ingot Casting Machine increases capacity by 2 million pounds per month.

1992  New Pot Transporter begins operation.

1994  Plant wins 1994 National Safety Council Award of Honor.

1994  RMC announces approval to modernize the St. Lawrence Reduction plant (potrooms and fume control system) with a five-year capital spending program of $150 to $200 million.

September, 1996  100 pots completed of 504 pots to be replaced-a milestone in the first phase of the modernization project.

1996  Plant receives 1996 National Safety Council Award of Honor.

March, 1997  Plant receives QS 9000 and ISO 9002 (quality standards) Casthouse Certification;  balance of plant receives both certifications in 1998, making this the first reduction plant worldwide to be certified to QS-9000.

March, 1999  New wastewater treatment plant begins operation.

1999  New Fume Treatment Control (FTC) system begins operation and is considered one of the most advanced in the aluminum industry.

August, 1999  Chemical and environmental lab addition completed.

2000  Potroom modernization completed.

2001  Alcoa/Reynolds merger takes place;  Reynolds plant becomes known as "Alcoa East".

November, 2007 [sic]  Completion of the number-one fatality prevention project-installation of railings around the tops of all pots, representing a $3.5 million safety investment.

March, 2001 [sic]  10 billion pounds of molten metal produced.

December, 2007  NYS Governor Eliot Spitzer announces that agreement is reached between the state and Alcoa on a new long-term contract that will provide competitively-priced power to both the East and West Alcoa plants for up to 40 years, provided Alcoa invest at least $600 million in the modernization of its facilities.  The Modernization Project calls for a new potline to be built at the East Plant.  This announcement puts into motion the planning and design work on the current Modernization Project.

December, 2008  2 million hours worked without a lost work day injury.

January, 2009  NYS Governor David Paterson signs the power contract, leaving the only contingency to the finalization of the contract the approval and funding of the Modernization Project by the Alcoa Board of Directors.

March, 2009  12 billion pounds of molten aluminum produced.

May, 2009  Global economic conditions and a struggling aluminum industry force the temporary curtailment of the East Plant;  a Memorandum of Understanding is reached with the New York Power Authority that enables 250 employees to remain at the idled plant, preparing for restart, working on Modernization Project planning and undertaking maintenance and repair work.