Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
Remediation of Former Wire Manufacturing Plant Helps Keep Chicopee Residence Safe and Offers Opportunity for Future Economic Growth
Success in EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant Program
(December 3, 2003)
The former Bay State Wire Company was the first Chicopee property that was assessed for contamination using US EPA Brownfields Assessment grant that was awarded to the city of Chicopee in 1996. The grant helped the city assess the environmental contamination present at the abandoned Bay State Wire property.
The 1.85 acre property located at 1195 Montgomery Street in this New England town is bordered by the Ames Plating Co. in the southwest, the Titan Roofing Co. on the northwest, and residential neighborhoods on the other two sides. The almost 50,000 square foot main building was built in 1913 by the C.F. Church Manufacturing Company, which owned the property until 1956 when it was sold to American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Company. American Radiator would occupy the building until 1963 followed up the Evalyne Day Trust who would own it until 1967. In 1967 National Transparent Plastics would become the fourth owner of the property. They utilized the site to manufacture plastics and rubber products and owned the property for 16 years. The property was sold again in 1983 to Bay State Wire Company.
Bay State Wire stopped production in 1988 and two fires destroyed the building in1990. The city of Chicopee began to develop plans for site assessment and cleanup in 1991. That same year, the property was purchased by Bay Reality, Inc. The degraded property was now beginning to draw the attention of the surrounding neighborhoods because of the dangerous environmental contamination and growing acts of vandalism and other criminal activity committed in and around the charred property.
Utilizing the US EPA Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilot Program monies, the city of Chicopee began an environmental assessment of the property in 1996. The city hired Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), Inc., an independent environmental contractor, to conduct site investigations and environmental testing on the property. VHB completed a Phase I assessment on the property in February of 1997. As a result of their investigations, immediate action was necessary when a methyl-ethyl ketone underground storage tank (UST) was seeping contaminants into the surrounding subsoil. Seven other USTs were found on the property by VHB. They contained fuel oils, plasticizer, kerosene, and other liquids. Six above ground storage tanks (ASTs) where also discovered, but most were empty. Other hazardous materials found at the property by VHB included asbestos, lead, PCBs, and mercury. The total assessment cost was $129,350.
The remains of the former Bay State Wire buildings were demolished and cleared, and the USTs and hazardous wastes were removed following the initial assessment. The total cost of the remediation, excluding the site assessment, was $196,000. City officials, the Willimansett Neighborhood Improvement League, Inc, and the EPA New England worked together to oversee all cleanup and demolition activities on the property. Cleanup was funded by both the city and state governments.
The city of Chicopee took ownership of the property from Bay Realty in 2000 through tax foreclosure. It was clean and ready for a future owner by 2002. That same year the property was sold to E. Joseph Montemagni, a private developer. Plans for the property’s redevelopment include office space, which would bring additional tax revenue and jobs to the neighborhood, and for storage for a local company. Located in Willimansett, one of the most economically downtrodden neighborhoods in the city, the now clean and safe site removes a source of crime and contamination and offers the promise of employment and renewed business to the disadvantaged community.
The population of Chicopee, MA is 55,000 people. The Unemployment rate in Chicopee was 3% in 2000 according in the U.S. Census with 22% of workers in manufacturing or factory jobs. The median household income is $35,700 with 9.6% of the population living below the poverty level in 2000.