10.01.14

SCHUMER: BATTAGLIA DEMOLITION HAS BEEN SENDING NOXIOUS DUST CLOUDS INTO SENECA-BABCOCK COMMUNITY FOR YEARS, HURTING LOCAL FAMILIES & QUALITY OF LIFE SCHUMER URGES EPA TO STEP IN, REDUCE AIR POLLUTION & PROVIDE RELIEF FOR LOCAL RESIDENTS

Battaglia Demolition Crushes as Much as 150 Truck Loads of Concrete Each Day, Sending Noxious, Particulate-Laden Emissions Into Seneca-Babcock; Locals Have Complained Of Breathing Problems & Migraines, Dust Covers Homes, Pools & Cars EPA Has Cited The Company For Not Complying With Fed Pollution Laws, But Urgent Action Is Needed To Improve The Situation Company Is Operating Without A Required Federal Clean Air Permit & Schumer Says EPA Must Step In Now Before Local Community Suf

Today, outside Battaglia Demolition in the SenecaBabcock neighborhood, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step in and help local SenecaBabcock residents who for years have been forced to deal with noxious, particulateladen emissions emanating from the neighboring Battaglia Demolition plant. Battaglia Demolition demolishes up to 150 truckloads of concrete each day and the resulting dust wafts into the air and coats nearby homes, cars and pools, severely impacting quality of life and property values. Local residents are also concerned that these dust clouds - which may contain particulates, asbestos, silica or other toxins, which can be extremely damaging to human health especially for children. Schumer said that Battaglia Demolition is operating without a federal Clean Air permit, something all polluting companies are required to have, and that the EPA should step in and force the company to apply for this permit, which will initiate a thorough review of the company's practices and determine the best approaches for mitigation. Schumer also urged the EPA to conduct random and frequent inspections, and encouraged them to work with state and local agencies to reduce the impact the pollution is having on the local community.

 

"The health and safety of our families is of the utmost importance, and the residents of SenecaBabcock have waited far too long for answers and action regarding the debris and particulateladen emissions that continue to spew from the Battaglia Demolition plant, severely affecting quality of life," said Schumer. "Battaglia has ignored the concerns of the community and ignored citations, so it is time to provide a bit of federal clout to force Battaglia to comply with air pollution laws and curtail noxious emissions. That is why I am urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency to require the company to apply for a the permit required by the Clean Air Act, which will require and go through the same thorough review process and monitoring that many other companies that pollute noxious emissions have gone through. This permit will allow the EPA and local residents to keep tabs on Battaglia and ensure that the company is greatly reducing noxious air pollution. I am also urging the EPA to conduct random and frequent inspections of the site and asking them to work with other agencies like the DEC to see what else can be done to mitigate the impact Battaglia is having on this community and its families."

 

Schumer was joined by Erin Heaney, Director of the Clean Air Collation; Rebecca Newberry, Community Organizer for the Clean Air Coalition; Dr. Joseph Gardella, Chairman of the Buffalo Environmental Management Commission and a chemistry professor at the University at Buffalo; Art Robinson, President of the SenecaBabcock Block Club; Diane Lemanski, Peabody Street resident; and additional residents from the surrounding neighborhood. Schumer noted that members of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York reached out to his office regarding these pollution concerns and the possible threat posed to the community's health.

 

"For too long, residents of Peabody Street have suffered from air pollution from Battaglia Demolition," said Erin Heaney, Director of the Clean Air Coalition, "The Clean Air Coalition is grateful for the leadership of Senator Schumer and we look forward to working with the EPA to ensure the residents can enjoy their neighborhood once again."

 

"The noise from the hammering and crushing of the concrete is so loud that it actually rattles the windows in my home," said Diane Lemanski, a Peabody Street resident. "The dust covers everything in sight. We just want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, and we want a safe, clean neighborhood where our children can grow up. I can't thank Senator Schumer enough for advocating on our behalf, and for taking on this cause so that our families can have a better quality of life."

 

According to a report from the  Investigative Post in Buffalo as well as concerns voiced by the local community, residents of the SenecaBabcock neighborhood, particularly those who live on Peabody Street, have been forced to endure a decade of dust emissions stemming from the concrete crushing activities taking place at Battaglia Demolition, a company located in the SenecaBabcock neighborhood in Buffalo. Battaglia demolishes up to 150 truckloads of concrete each day and creates dust that is sent into the air as a result of the crushing. Schumer said these emissions, which may contain asbestos, silica or other toxins, which can be extremely damaging to human health -coat nearby homes and are causing concern among residents about the potential health impacts. Schumer said that, not only is this pollution a health hazard for residents, and children in particular, but it is also negatively impacting quality of life and property values.

 

According to the  Investigative Post report and to officials for the Clean Air Coalition, state environmental regulators conducted a study three years ago that admitted the particles from the concrete dust were settling in the neighborhood, and many residents have noted consistent health problems in their children, including severe migraines headaches, bloody noses, and trouble breathing. Schumer explained that while the cause of the medical issues is unknown, residents are worried that they may be caused by the presence of silica, asbestos, or other toxins in the dust. Schumer explained that concrete, and other materials often sent to be demolished, that were made before 1960 can often contain asbestos and, without consistent sampling, cannot be monitored to examine the extent to which the pollutant is present. Additionally, in a survey done by a Battagliahired consultant in 2009, silica-a carcinogen-was found in site test.

 

In April 2014, EPA inspectors visited the Battaglia Demolition site in response to complaints from the community and then worked with the DEC to determine that the company was in violation of federal air quality laws since it did not have a federal Clean Air permit, something it should possess given it is using a concrete crusher on its premises, which is considered a source of air pollution. The EPA, however, deferred enforcement, since the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was planning to take action under state regulations. DEC subsequently issued Battaglia Demolition a citation for not possessing a state air quality permit, but Battaglia avoided applying for the permit by arguing that their concrete crusher falls into a loophole in state regulations that allows them to avoid applying for the permit. The DEC, however, disagreed with Battaglia, saying the unit was covered by the regulations and therefore needed a permit. Schumer said that a federal Clean Air Act permit would be vital in helping to mitigate the situation since it would give the public a clear picture of what Battaglia is required to do to keep pollution under the legal limits and enable regulators to keep tabs on what the company is doing. With this permit, Battaglia would be required to certify each year whether or not it has met the requirements, and to report on how they are tracking emissions and mitigating impacts on the local community.

 

Since dust continues to be emitted by Battaglia, severely impacting local residents' quality of life, and because the company has not relented in its refusal to apply for a statelevel permit, Schumer is urging the EPA to issue Battaglia a citation that would require the company to apply for a federal Clean Air permit. Schumer said that if the company does not apply within an EPAdesignated time frame, EPA can start issuing fines and eventually work with state officials to take action to compel the firm to comply. Schumer is also calling for the EPA to conduct random and frequent inspections of the site and is urging the EPA to work with other agencies, like the DEC, to find ways to mitigate and minimize health impacts and potential hazards on the local community.

  

According to the EPA, under the Clean Air Act of 1990, stationary sources (primarily industrial facilities and large commercial operations) emitting certain air pollutants are required to obtain operating permits. Generally, major sources include those stationary facilities that emit 100 tons or more per year of a regulated air pollutant. Regulated pollutants include compounds such as carbon monoxide, particulates, volatile organics, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. The operating permit program also covers a variety of other significant operations, including certain sources of toxic air pollutants; many of these pollutants can cause cancer or other serious health effects, like silica. According to the EPA, those who emit several of these air pollution sources are required by federal law to reduce emissions and to obtain air pollution permits to ensure compliance.

 

A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the EPA is available upon request.

 

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