Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Beware of China's Safety Record," in Brooklyn?

Beware of China's Safety Record, opined Chinese novelist Murong Xuecun in the 11/26/15 New York Times, regarding accidents in Chinese industrial buildings, construction sites, and mega-engineering projects, including nuclear power projects.

"There’s no reason to expect the safety standards and the quality of building to be higher in China-run projects abroad," he wrote, citing the management role of "Chinese state-owned companies," work done by "imported, low-paid Chinese laborers," with management by "mainly Chinese government appointees."

He citesdincidents in Vietnam and Ecuador, as well as information control from Chinese authorities.

And in Brooklyn

Should that impact how we think about Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?

After all, it's a project of the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners, with Greenland Holdings, controlled by the government of Shanghai, owning 70% of the project going forward, excluding the Barclays Center arena and the B2 modular tower, aka 461 Dean Street.

Forest City Ratner, the minority partner, manages site activities, and all the workers are union workers. (That, however, didn't protect an unfortunate ironworker killed in a site incident last February.)

So the situation isn't exactly parallel.

Then again, Forest City has regularly pushed the envelope, or cut corners, on construction activities that, whether or not they affect the safety of the building itself, impact the community very near the project site. (See the Instagram posts from resident monitor Wayne Bailey or this post about trucks on Dean Street.)

The margin for error, when a project is so close to established residences, is very small.

And it quietly gutted dozens of pre-fabricated units in the B2 tower after water penetrated them.

That can't be attributed to Greenland. But it's hard to believe that Greenland, whose American leader said, “We should all move very fast. We should catch the moment,” has put the brakes on Forest City and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

That's why the ultimate responsibility goes to New York City and New York State authorities.

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