Volume 18 • Issue 47 | April 7 - 13, 2006

Citing changes, E.P.A. withholds O.K. on Deutsche demo

By Ronda Kaysen

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked to see more detailed plans about the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building, potentially delaying the demolition of the 9/11-contaminated tower once again.

Located at 130 Liberty St., the building is contaminated with a host of World Trade Center toxins including mold, asbestos and lead.

Last September, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. finally won approval from the E.P.A. to clean the 40-story tower floor by floor and demolish it in sections. The corporation began erecting scaffolding last fall and plans to begin taking the tower down in June.

But the timetable might be delayed. Pat Evangelista, W.T.C. Coordinator for the E.P.A., sent the L.M.D.C. a letter last month saying L.M.D.C.’s current plan “had significant differences” to what was approved last September.

Local residents and labor leaders have long voiced concerns that if the building is not demolished painstakingly, the neighborhood could be re-contaminated or workers could risk health complications.

Some of the differences include the use of concrete crushing equipment, a chute to carry crushed concrete to ground level and a “floating roof” covering the site. “These and other changes will of course have an impact on the potential release of contaminants,” wrote Evangelista.

The demolition cannot go forward without E.P.A. approval.

On Tuesday, the L.M.D.C. submitted additional information to the E.P.A., giving detailed answers to E.P.A. questions. “All of this supplemental information is consistent with the approved deconstruction plan,” said L.M.D.C. spokesperson John Gallagher in an e-mail statement to Downtown Express.

The E.P.A. now needs to review and approve the L.M.D.C. plan before it can begin. “We can’t let [the demolition] go forward unless we’re assured that taking the building apart isn’t going to adversely affect the abatement work,” said E.P.A. spokesperson Mary Mears, adding that “it’s certainly not our intention” to delay the process.

The 130 Liberty St. demolition has long caught the attention of local residents and labor leaders concerned about re-contaminating the neighborhood. The latest flurry of letters between the two agencies has only heightened their anxiety. “What’s been going on all this time?” said Kimberly Flynn, co-coordinator of 9/11 Environmental Action, an advocacy group. “It’s very late in the day for us not to have a proper completed demolition plan for phase II. It’s extremely troubling.”

Flynn and other environmental activists have frequently criticized E.P.A for making misleading statements about air quality Downtown in the days after 9/11, doubting the agency’s credibility. Yet Flynn steadfastly maintains that E.P.A. should oversee the demolition.

The Deutsche cleanup was delayed before. The original cleanup plan that the L.M.D.C. fielded in Feb. 2005 was rejected by E.P.A., sending the corporation back to the drawing board and delaying the demolition by six months.

But the L.M.D.C. is confident that this latest bout of paperwork will not stall the process again. “We anticipate no delays as a result of this request,” Gallagher wrote.


Ronda@DowntownExpress.com


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