Asbestos draws fines at Manresa; Oddo asks probe

Source: Staten Island Advance (NY), October 4, 2014
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Asbestos problems at the controversial Mount Manresa project have led to $67,400 in city violations, and GOP Borough President James Oddo wants the city Department of Investigation to step in.
Gaspare Santoro, the engineer who said that the six buildings on the site scheduled for demolition were free of asbestos, was hit with a total of $37,200 in violations, according to the city Department of Environmental Protection.
The violations said Santoro failed properly to address all suspect asbestos in his survey; engaged in improper conduct, and did not take the required number of samples in his investigations.
Asbestos has been found in two of the Mount Manresa buildings. Tests esults for the other four buildings are not yet available, the DEP said.
Oddo said that according to DEP, Santoro took just 19 samples in his survey. Oddo said that an asbestos investigator hired after that took 300 samples.
“I don’t know if it’s negligence, incompetence, or something worse,” Oddo said. “But DOI should find out.”
He said, “I’m sure as hell curious that one guy took 19 samples and another guy took 300.”
The Savo Brothers firm, which is looking to build 250 townhouses on the site of the former Jesuit retreat house, was hit with $19,000 in violations, while contractor Toth Excavating Inc. got $11,000 in violations,
DEP said.
Oddo has written to DOI, asking that they direct DEP and the Department of Buildings to refrain from issuing any more permits for the project, and to rescind those that have already been issued.
“Nothing should move forward until we are given a full accounting,” said Oddo, who was briefed on the violations and other aspects of the project by DEP and DOB representatives at Borough Hall on Friday.
Said Oddo, “We should stop this project dead in its tracks.”
DOI did not immediately comment on Oddo’s letter.
The Savos and Santoro did not return phone calls seeking comment.
One building on the site had been partially demolished before the asbestos problems surfaced, driven by neighborhood activists, including the Committee to Save Mount Manresa.
A stop-work order has been placed on the property, halting any further demolition. It is not known if the asbestos problems will do anything more than further delay the project. Mount Manresa advocates are looking to stop the townhouses from being built.

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