Alcoa celebrates 120th anniversary in Massena; employs 450 making aluminum
MASSENA -- After 120 continuous years of operation in Massena, Alcoa continues to have a significant impact on families and surrounding communities with generations of families having worked at the plant.Many speeches by corporate, public and local dignitaries praised Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation for their decades of contributions to Massena and the surrounding areas during a ceremony to mark the 120th anniversary on Saturday.
The high-quality aluminum produced in Massena is utilized in the transportation, construction, defense and food industries.
The plant has provided for families, served as a strategic partner to defense and aerospace industries and helped humankind explore the surface of the moon, Alcoa officials noted.
According to an economic impact study conducted recently in connection with the plant’s anniversary, 450 employees currently work at the Massena plant. In total, the study showed the plant’s direct, indirect and induced effects contribute to more than $150 million in payroll earnings, officials say.
“As one of the largest employers in St. Lawrence County, we’re proud of the economic and fiscal benefits that our operations in Massena offer not only to our employees but also to our neighbors and other businesses in the county and throughout the state,” said Massena Operations Manager Derrick Lucey.
On June 26, 1902, Charles Martin Hall, the inventor of the original aluminum process committed to purchase power from a newly built powerhouse on a canal connecting the St. Lawrence and Grasse rivers in Massena, to form the Pittsburgh Reduction Company.
On July 12, 1902, the company, which later became Alcoa, broke ground for the new plant in Massena. The Massena Operations has operated for the last 120 years, making it the oldest continuously operating aluminum smelter in the world.
“As one of the largest employers in St. Lawrence County, we’re proud of the economic and fiscal benefits that our operations in Massena offer not only to our employees but also to our neighbors and other businesses in the county and throughout the state,” said Lucey.
Officials listed a number of milestones for the plant, including when Alcoa engineers and researchers developed a casting method at the Massena plant that created larger and higher quality aluminum ingots “that could be used in a greater variety of alloys, including those used for aircraft.”
“The plant’s employees have produced aluminum for World War II fighter planes, Titan II rockets, Saturn IB space vehicles and Vietnam War helicopters,” according to a press release.
In 1946, the plant helped build the first aluminum bridge span in the U.S., which was used on the nearby Grasse River Railroad Bridge.
“In 1969, Apollo 8 was constructed with a welding electrode from Massena Operations while the Apollo 11 lunar module contained Massena aluminum,” according to the press release.
Officials also touched on the number of changes and upgrades the facility has seen in it’s history, including in 1977 when the smelter had the longest potline in the world, officials say.
“This important milestone could not have been achieved without the tremendous work of our employees and the steadfast support of our community stakeholders and elected officials,” said Lucey.
Earlier this year, the Massena plant earned certifications from the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative for both its smelter and casthouse, officials say.
“Earning certifications from ASI aligns with our vision to reinvent the aluminum industry for a sustainable future,” said John Slaven, Alcoa’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer. “This recognition for Massena is welcome news for the facility’s 120 years of continual production and the important work that our employees do there every day to consistently improve for the benefit of our customers, communities and the environment.”
The ASI Certification program is the most comprehensive in the industry, developed through a multi-stakeholder consultation process that defines robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles and criteria, including key issues such as biodiversity, rights for Indigenous Peoples and greenhouse gas emissions, officials say.