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BY SAM SPOKONY | Seven construction workers were banned from the World Trade Center site on Fri., July 27 after they were caught drinking by detectives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The workers had multiple alcoholic beverages during their lunch break at the Raccoon Lounge on Warren Street, where undercover members of the Port Authority’s Inspector General’s Office first spotted them, according to Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman.
The detectives then followed the workers back to the W.T.C. site as they attempted to reenter the construction area. After swiping their passes, the workers were apprehended by the pursuing detectives, who promptly confiscated the passes and permanently banned them from the site.
The group of seven included employees from three separate contractors and three separate W.T.C. projects, said Coleman.
Four, who are employed by Eaton Electric, were electrical workers assigned to the W.T.C. Transportation Hub. Two were concrete workers assigned to 1 W.T.C. and are employed by Collavino Construction. The last one, whose job was not identified, was assigned to 2 W.T.C. and is employed by Halmar International.
None of the three contractors responded to requests for comment.
Coleman added that the Port Authority only has the power to ban workers from the W.T.C. site, not fire them. It wasn’t clear by press time whether the seven workers have been fired by their respective employers.
“As we have said before, there is no place at the World Trade Center for risky or irresponsible behavior of any kind,” said Dara McQuillan, a spokesperson for W.T.C. developer Silverstein Properties. “The rebuilding represents our best in many different ways – environmental efficiency, technology, quality – and this project must also be a model of worker safety.”
The incident follows a similar one that took place on July 18, when four steamfitters assigned to 3 W.T.C. were caught drinking in a bar during their lunch break — also by undercover Port Authority detectives.
Undercover investigations on the W.T.C. site have been taking place for years, though the latest crackdown on lunchtime drinking followed a quote published in a recent Downtown Express article that highlighted safety violations on the worksite.
In the July 11 article, construction worker Jay Kinsman — who was assigned to 1 W.T.C. at the time — told of rumors floating around the site after a fellow worker had fallen and injured himself.
“I heard that he’d had a few drinks during his lunch break,” Kinsman had said.
Collavino Construction, also mentioned in the Downtown Express article, had been slammed with a major safety violation by the U.S. Department of Labor two years ago.
During a June 2010 inspection at 1 W.T.C., federal investigators spotted a Collavino worker who was “exposed to falling approximately 30 feet to the ground below while installing steel scaffold ties. While fall protection gear was appropriate, it wasn’t provided by the employer, according to federal records.
The violation resulted in a $4,000 fine, and Collavino didn’t return calls for comment on that incident, either.