Since 1956, the plant now owned by ATI Wah Chang (formerly called the Wah Chang Corporation) has operated as a rare metals extraction facility, after the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) contracted with Wah Chang Corporation in 1956 to run the U.S. Bureau of Mines zirconium plant in Albany, Oregon. The Wah Chang Corporation produced not only zirconium, but hafnium, tantalum and niobium at the site as well. The production processes for these radioactive metals generated radioactive waste, which was subsequently leaked into the surrounding environment.

Wah Chang was deemed a Superfund site in 1983, when the Superfund (or CERCLA, which stands for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) deemed that the company’s processes had contaminated nearby rivers.

From 1983 to 2002, ATI Wah Chang conducted clean-up me