WESTFORD -- The House of Representatives passed an environmental bond bill Wednesday containing $1.5 million to address pollution concerns associated with the former anodizing plant at 12 North Main St.
State Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford, offered the language this week that would bring forward funds to the town.
"I am very pleased ... Westford can remedy the pollution, public safety and drinking water safety issues associated with this historic building," he said in a press release. "This will be the first step in a process to stabilize and cleanup the property, in order that it may be brought back into productive use, either for business or residential purposes."
The contaminated site, located in the Graniteville National Historic District, is the site of the former Abbot Worsted Mill, and was used in the 1970s as an anodizing plant. The property contains a granite block building built in 1860, a bell tower and a smokestack. In recent years, a part of the building's roof collapsed. It is believed chemicals used in the anodizing process polluted the soils on the property, which may include cyanide and dioxins, according to officials.
The Westford Fire Department has determined the site unsafe and issued an order preventing civilians from entering the premises. The Westford building commissioner has also ordered the building be demolished, citing safety concerns.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is conducting soil testing to determine the exact amount and types of chemicals present on the property, while the town has expressed interest in purchasing the site for development. Town Manager Jodi Ross said last summer the owner of the plant, a metal plater, shut down in 2004 has was unresponsive to requests for site testing and possible cleanup measures on the property last August.
In addition to the pollution and public safety concerns, the dilapidated structure sits on the town's Stony Brook aquifer which could be impacted by any further damage or deterioration of the property's structured, according Arciero's office. The water, which goes over the dam, flows directly into the town's water well system.
In the spring of this year, a group of municipal officials reviewed the site from afar to determine what might be done to address and remedy the situation. The town is in the process of determining if it will acquire the property which is in tax title, with over $42,000 in arrears. A lien auction held in June 2012 produced no bids, Arciero said.
"This critical funding will not only allow this historic building to be brought back into a useful condition, but will remove this blight from the historic Graniteville neighborhood," Arciero said. "In addition, our children and citizens will be kept safe from the chemicals and dangers associated with a property in this state, and our public water supply will be protected as well."
The Westford Affordable Housing Committee has expressed interested in the property for housing purposes, as well.
Follow Samantha Allen on Twitter and Tout @SAllen_89.