Workers will begin tearing down the middle tier buildings of the old Uniroyal complex in Chicopee on Wednesday. This will enable the federal and state environmental protection agencies to assess contamination levels.
The Regional EPA administrator Alexandra Dunn is concerned about what they’ll find in the way of PCP’s, asbestos and lead.
“We have many properties around New England that are actually right on the waterway,” Dunn explained. “And those contaminants go right into the water. We’re not far from a river here.”
The sprawling Uniroyal complex became a municipal burden when the tire maker laid off 3,000 workers and closed the plant during the early 1980s.
Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos told 22News “It’s something that’s been languishing in various forms of reuse over the decades. When the city acquired the ownership in the past ten years, it really made us focus on how we could do with it.”
In the best case scenario, the contamination could be dealt with and the remaining buildings would be saved and—eventually—converted into apartments.
But that decision is still a long way off, contingent on the seriousness of the contamination and possible plans for a cleanup of this historic former industrial complex.