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EPA BEGINS CLEANUP OF HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES AT ABONDONED MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN WILLIMASTOWN

Release Date: 10/20/1997
Contact Information: Art Wing, OSC (617) 573-5755 Erin Heskett, CIC (617)918-1054

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began work this week to remove flammable liquids and drums, contaminated wastewater treatment sludge, and other hazardous substances from an abandoned manufacturing facility located in a residential neighborhood of Williamstown, Mass.

High levels of Cadmium, Silver, and Methanol at the site may potentially pose a risk to people who have extended contact with highly contaminated soils, wastewater treatment sludges, or drum contents. The EPA is also concerned that contamination could migrate and threaten organisms in the nearby Hoosic River, and also potentially impact local drinking water.

"Local residents can count on a quick, efficient cleanup that will help preserve the safety of the surrounding neighborhoods and improve the chances for reuse of the property," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) notified the EPA in May of 55-gallon drums and sludges containing various metals in in-ground basins at the site. Based on information provided by the MADEP, the EPA collected samples from drums, soils, and wastewater treatment sludges on the site.

Sample results found high levels of cadmium in site soils and the presence of hazardous substances including cadmium, chromium, arsenic and silver in the wastewater treatment sludge and wood chips. The EPA also confirmed the presence of methanol, a flammable liquid, in some of the drums on site.

In the next few weeks, EPA officials will conduct a more extensive study of the property to ensure that no other containers of waste remain that would require removal. Other cleanup activities will include:

    • removal of contaminated sludge and residue from the waste water treatment system basins;
    • collection, sampling, repackaging, and staging abandoned drums and other containers;
    • excavation, packaging and staging of buried containers or highly contaminated soil that is identified on site; and,
    • shipment of highly contaminated materials and substances, and repackaged drums and containers to licensed treatment and disposal facilities.
The EPA will also post a security guard during non-working hours of the cleanup to restrict access to the property. The site was last operated by the Photec Company to manufacture photographic chemicals, dyes and specialty film and paper.