Monday, November 09, 2015

What was happening yesterday at 666 Pacific? Noise, smell, and an asbestos abatement permit not covering Sunday (updated: DEP says wrong permit)

An update 1:30 pm. The Department of Environmental Protection says: "Contractor had originally requested a permit to work Monday through Saturday. This request was amended earlier in October to include work on Sundays. The request was approved and a new permit was generated. During an inspection yesterday, no violations were found. The contractor was instructed to post the correct permit."

What was going on yesterday at 666 Pacific Street, the former industrial building condemned for part of the B15 site (aka 664 Pacific, just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific Streets)?

It's supposed to be undergoing generalized "abatement," as well as "Saturday work to address field conditions," according to the latest two-week Construction Update issued by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

An asbestos abatement notice, pictured at right, indicates a permit from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to allow work Monday through Saturday.

But yesterday was Sunday. And there some kind of noisy, and smelly, work going on at the site, with the windows open. A couple of workers on the roof are pictured at left.

So the DEP was summoned, as shown in the picture below. Wayne Bailey, the resident to took the pictures here, reports that, "for at least four hours, it smelled like paint thinner or acetone. People would say,'Wow, what's that smell.' They were like, 'I'm getting out of here.'"

Observing the site for about four hours, starting around 11 am, Bailey reports he saw no one doing air monitoring. "Even if they're not working on asbestos, why are the windows open?" He says he saw no work permit for Sunday. (The Department of Buildings shows no after-hours variance permits for this property.)

On Instagram, Bailey observed, "construction workers on a Sunday afternoon, gee I hope they have proper permits & they aren't doing asbestos abatement."

The DEP representative, according to Bailey, initially could not get in the building after beating on the door at 666 Pacific. Eventually, the rep went into the building through back, via the Sixth Avenue parking lot originally designated for satellite TV trucks.

Note that, according to the update, there was a permit, albeit not posted, and no DEP violations were found.

That still doesn't mean that the foul smell was OK. As for air monitoring, see p. 22 of the Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments: the focus is on dust and diesel emissions, not what may have disturbed people yesterday.

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