Volume 21, Number 34 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 26 - January 1, 2009

New accident at 130 Liberty St.

The accidents aren’t over at the Deutsche Bank building.

Five days before the district attorney announced indictments in last year’s fatal fire at the building, a metal rod plunged from the 16th or 17th story and may have hit a workers’ shed on the ground.

Workers had dismantled an asbestos abatement chamber on the 16th or 17th floor last Wednesday and loaded the debris into boxes, which they placed on the building’s exterior hoist. As the hoist started to move, the 2-foot-long rod fell from a box that was overloaded, slipping through a small hole in the netting around the hoist. It landed in a protected area of the site, where the public is not allowed but where a construction worker could have been hit. No one was hurt.

The Department of Buildings issued a violation to contractor Bovis Lend Lease for failing to safeguard persons and property affected by construction. The L.M.D.C. stopped transporting materials via the exterior hoist after the accident and instructed workers not to overload boxes.

“At no time was the public in danger,” said Mike Murphy, L.M.D.C. spokesperson. “We took immediate steps to ensure this would not happen again.”

The rod had holes in it, like the post of a stop sign, and was used to hang lights in the decontamination chambers.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s 130 Liberty St. community advisory committee met last Friday, two days after the accident, but L.M.D.C. officials did not mention the accident during their presentation. Only when a community member specifically asked whether anything had fallen from the building did the L.M.D.C. say what happened.

“It was like pulling teeth,” said Rob Spencer, director of media services for the Organization of Staff Analysts union. “We should not have had to drag this information out of the leadership of the L.M.D.C.”

Spencer and another community member said it’s hard to trust the L.M.D.C. if they are not candid about what is happening on the site. The L.M.D.C. has an emergency community notification system but did not send out an alert about the recent accident.

When asked about these concerns, Murphy reiterated that the public was never in danger, so the L.M.D.C. did not think the community needed to be notified.

However, Spencer wants to know whenever anyone is in danger.

“The community is as concerned about the workers on the job as they are about the surrounding community,” he said. “They deserve safe working circumstances.”

— Julie Shapiro




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