According to a letter sent to the tenants of Easthampton's Eastworks building, a "small amount of mercury was discovered in an enclosed area of the basement not open to the public." The mercury, purported to be at least a pound in total, was discovered on Dec. 24. Tom Hamilton, an industrial hygienist, was brought in for consultation and Western Mass. Environmental, a hazardous waste cleanup firm, has been hired to proceed with remediation. Building management has indicated that all contractors are working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection to insure that all safety and reporting standards are met throughout the remediation process.
Eastworks (a former home to the Valley Advocate offices) was originally the site of Stanley Home Products during Easthampton's more industrial era, and is now home to a host of businesses, residents and artists' studios as well as the local Registry of Motor Vehicles. The DEP visited the building and took photographs on Jan. 7, and a report on the mercury discovery is pending, though many of the building's occupants (especially commercial ones) have expressed some frustration about what they feel is a lack of concrete, up-to-the-minute information about the situation and what legal bearing it might have on their obligation to their own employees. The Advocate attempted to reach Easthampton Health Inspector Dennis Lacourse for comment, but had not received a response by press time.