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Attic chemicals cause concern

Hazmat team responds to Charlemont home

CHARLEMONT — Bomb squad and hazardous materials workers spent the better part of a day dealing with a cache of chemicals found in a Charlemont attic.

Once crews responded, the building, which houses the Great Outdoors shop, three apartments, and a catering business, was evacuated Saturday.

On Sunday, said the live-in owner, he and his three tenants were cleared to return to the building.

The hazardous chemicals could have gone undiscovered, if it weren’t for the weekend’s heat wave.

“I went (into the attic) to grab a fan Friday, when I saw a couple boxes covered with pillows,” recalled Christian Carcio. “I took the pillows off of one, and it was filled with vials and bottles that said ‘highly flammable,’ ‘toxic,’ and ‘no antidote.’ It was 120 degrees in the attic Friday, and a lot of those bottles said they were heat-sensitive.”

Carcio, owner of the building, didn’t know what to do at first. The chemicals were found in an area of his attic where he’d let a former tenant, Donald R. Walck, store some of his things while he looked for a new place.

“I know him; he lived right next to me for eight or nine months, and I considered him a friend,” said Carcio. Friend or not, Carcio said he had to have Walck move out of the apartment about three weeks ago.

Carcio knew that Walck was in jail awaiting trial for the alleged attempted murder and kidnapping of his girlfriend, after allegedly attacking her in May. Carcio didn’t want to make things worse for his former friend, and decided to sleep on it.

Saturday, Carcio called police.

“They were here for about 17 hours,” he said. “The hazmat team went up in their full hazmat gear, and had to test the air first. They pulled 35 to 50 containers of chemicals from the attic.”

State Fire Marshal’s Office spokeswoman Jennifer Mieth said the materials were described to her as “precursor chemicals,” compounds that could be combined with others to make explosives.

Possession of precursor chemicals alone is not a crime, said Mieth. However, she noted, improper storage of precursor chemicals is illegal. She said Tuesday that she had not received word of whether circumstances warrant a charge of improper storage.

Since the initial response, said Carcio, police seized Walck’s personal computer as evidence.

Walck, formerly an electrical engineer at aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt and Whitney, in East Hartford, Conn., had a laboratory in his apartment, where he built computer components, said Carcio.

Carcio thanked state police, the bomb squad, the hazardous materials team and firefighters for the respect and professionalism with which they handled the matter.

Calls to state police were not returned Tuesday.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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