Volume 19 • Issue 17 | September 8 - 14, 2006

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, left, Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced that Silverstein would use low pollution trucks to rebuild the W.T.C.

Silverstein pledges environmentally friendly construction

By Lori Haught

For Downtown residents concerned about air quality in Lower Manhattan, it was a breath of fresh air to hear World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein promise to limit sulfur, hydrocarbon, and nitrogen emissions at his construction sites.

Silverstein, the leaseholder for the Trade Center site, has agreed to use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel for all on-road and on-site vehicles and will retrofit all vehicles with diesel particulate filters. The developer has already built 7 W.T.C. at the north end of the site and preliminary work has begun on the Freedom Tower. He will also build towers two, three, four and five.

“Since we embarked on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, we have pledged to work with this community to safeguard the health of the people who live, work, visit, and go to school Downtown,” Silverstein said in a statement on Wednesday. “Working hand-in-hand with Community Board 1, we will help mitigate environmental problems such as smog, acid rain and water pollution.”

A federal study released in March found that New York State has the dirtiest air in the country. Downtown residents have long voiced concern that the construction projects in their neighborhood — nearly $10 billion in construction over the next two decades — will make already dirty air even dirtier.

A new law mandating low sulfur diesel fuel for on-site construction vehicles will be phased in over four years. However, the bulk of the rebuilding will happen before the law mandates using the cleaner fuel. Silverstein’s commitment sets a precedent and Community Board 1 chairperson Julie Menin hopes other developers Downtown will follow suit.

“We need something that is effective now. This is the air that we breathe each and every day,” Menin said, adding that air quality was the chief complaint of residents in her district.

C.B. 1 has asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the Trade Center site and will build the memorial and W.T.C. supporting walls, to make a similar commitment. The agency said it would look into the suggestion.

“The peak construction is the next four years. This is when the government agencies should really be doing this,” Menin said, adding that Goldman Sachs, which is building its new headquarters catty-corner to the site, should also use the cleaner fuel.

Ultra low sulfur diesel costs about five cents more on the gallon than low sulfur diesel, but it significantly reduces emissions in the air, including a 97 percent sulfur content reduction, a 13 percent reduction in particulate and hydrocarbon emissions, a six percent reduction in carbon monoxide and a three percent reduction in nitrogen oxide, which contributes to smog. Sulfur diesel emissions contribute to asthma, heart attacks and bronchitis.

-- With reporting by Ronda Kaysen


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