WILLIAMSTOWN -- A recently completed site assessment of the Photech property has concluded that soil contamination still exists at the former textile and photographic film manufacturing mill.
According to the report, soil samples taken from the southeastern section of the property were found to have concentrations of the metals cadmium and silver above state standards.
Asbestos-containing materials were also found in fill on the southern portion of the 4.9-acre site.
"In seven of the 20 samples submitted for metals analysis, cadmium was detected above the S-1 standard of 2 milligrams per kilogram," the report stated. "In those samples, cadmium concentrations ranged between 2.1 milligrams per kilogram and 28 milligrams per kilogram."
Silver was detected at the state standard of 100 milligrams per kilogram in one of the samples, the report said.
Cadmium, silver and extractable petroleum hydrocarbons weren’t found above laboratory reporting limits in groundwater and surface water samples from the site.
Based on those findings, the report concluded that "single-family residential uses" cannot be among the future plans for the property without "significant remediation of soil at the site."
"In order to have unrestricted site use, extensive excavation would be required," the assessment, which was completed by Tighe and Bond in August, stated.
The evaluation was made possible by a $58,150 grant the town received earlier this year from MassDevelopment. The site is one of many town-owned properties being considered for low-cost housing.
Catherine Yamamoto, chairwoman of the Affordable Housing Committee, said Thursday that Photech is still one of the main sites the committee is looking at for housing, and it’s currently waiting to hear from Tighe and Bond on the cost to clean up the property.
"We expect that it will be a more expensive cleanup than 59 Water St. given that chemicals have historically been used on this site," she said.
The property on Water Street, the site of the former town garage, remains the Affordable Housing Committee’s primary site on which to develop low-cost housing, she said.
At its meeting on Oct. 3, the committee voted in favor of engaging O’Reilly, Talbot and Okun Associates to take the next steps needed to assess the contamination found during the environmental site assessment of 59 Water St.
"That will tell us how much contamination is in that one particular location on the site, and the estimated cost to clean it up," Yamamoto said.
O’Reilly, Talbot and Okun conducted the environmental site assessment, which found soil contamination in two areas where underground diesel fuel and gasoline storage tanks were once located. The July 27 report also concluded that there might have been an underground gasoline storage tank unaccounted for on the 1.27-acre site.
The environmental site assessment was paid for with funds provided by the Massachusetts Housing Part nership and the local public works department budget. The additional evaluation will be paid for from the $107,500 in Community Preservation Act funds that the Affordable Housing Committee received to determine the viability of town-owned properties for housing.
"We’re trying to keep moving forward, but given the obstacles that we have already encountered with [Photech and 59 Water St.], we continue to look at lands a little further out from the center of town," Yamamoto said.
Those sites are mainly the Lowry and Burbank properties, which are in conservation, she said.
"We’ve agreed to begin engaging the Conservation Commission, and explore the initial stages involved in the process of lifting some, or all, of those conservation restrictions," she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email