OCGC | URGENT | RE: Orange County Government Center Renovation Project Asbestos Abatement

Goshen environmental activist, Vincent Ferri has sent the below notice to the NYSDOL today:

Dear Sir/Madame,

I am an environmental and forensic investigator for the Goshen law firm of Sussman and Watkins, and we have some concerns about the this project for which we do not have a DOL case or reference number.

In regard to the above matter, an inspector from your office visited the site of this renovation project recently and found several violations that he asked to be corrected. In the process of inspecting the site at 255 Main Street in Goshen bordered on the South by Erie Street, he advised the contractors that a Rule 56 variance was needed to proceed with rooftop asbestos abatement and other aspects of the abatement, and we must demand a public hearing on the matter of the variance to be held in the Goshen community.

We are concerned that any variance issued to the following parties, Orange County, Clark Paterson & Lee, Holt Construction, Helmer-Cronin, LVI Construction Services and North Star Construction, would endanger the health and welfare of the residents of the Village and the Town of Goshen, because in recent weeks these entities have conducted open-air asbestos abatement without [to the best of my knowledge] notification to nearby residents or the School located in very close proximity to the work site.

And, on the day that prompted my original complaint to your agency, I witnessed open-air abatement work on the roof of the site using jack-hammers with a prevailing wind blowing in a Southerly direction towards the school and a residential area throughout the day. Clearly, these entities have shown no concern for your Rule 56 regulations or the public health. These actions took place in violation of the law with their full knowledge and intent to do so. This is apparent because of our inspection of pre-project bid specifications and documents sent by Holt Construction, the managing contractor on this project, to Helmer-Cronin, the demolition contractor on the project, who subcontracted to LVI and North Star for the asbestos work at the time the documents were furnished to our firm requiring an asbestos abatement plan which no one here or locally has seen. If any change has taken place in those documents since, we have not been privy to those changes, but they clearly defined what would take place as outlined in Rule 56 on a check list sheet defining the work timeline and the requirements at each point in the timeline. There were no items in the check list marked as completed at that time, and no plan defined specific to the idiosyncratic nature of the project.

We have also observed the absence of air monitoring equipment, no apparent identification of hazardous waste, insufficient containment and handling of asbestos containing materials, unprotected workers or workers who ware protective gear only when being observed, and no attempt to create a negative pressure containment of asbestos particle released from the work site.

It is our fear that without a public hearing on the matter of their request for a variance, they will continue to endanger those who live and work in close proximity to the work site with impunity.

Very truly yours,
Vincent Ferri
— Vincent Ferri