Deutsche demo raises concerns

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Officials must take action to protect Downtowners from high levels of toxins in the Deutsche Bank building when the 40-story tower is dismantled across from ground zero, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said this week.

The vacant building at 130 Liberty St., shrouded in black netting since 9/11, contains concentrations of asbestos in certain places that are nearly 150,000 times the acceptable level, according to court documents released by Nadler at a July 19 news conference.

Officials at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the city-state agency that has agreed to buy the building for $90 million, said they did not trust that data because it was collected by Deutsche Bank as the company prepared to sue its insurers.

“We could not rely on those results — we had to do our own testing,” said Amy Peterson, vice president for development programs and economics for the L.M.D.C., at a July 21 meeting of Community Board 1.

Peterson said that L.M.D.C. contractors were currently testing 130 Liberty St. for mold, asbestos in the building materials, asbestos in the dust and other World Trade Center contaminants. These contaminants include silica, PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons), dioxin, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, nickel, zinc, and mercury, according to L.M.D.C. spokesperson Joanna Rose.

Nadler said Deutsche Bank’s environmental data shows that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is ill equipped to handle its planned demolition of the building.

“The L.M.D.C. has been ignoring the concerns of residents and workers, and the real threat of contamination present in the Deutsche Bank building,” Nadler said.

L.M.D.C. officials dismissed Nadler’s remarks as “political grandstanding.”

Peterson said that the L.M.D.C. did not have a plan to remediate the building because its own environmental testing was not complete. Those results will help officials create a plan to take down the building in the most environmentally sound manner possible, Peterson said. The test results will be made public, she added.

L.M.D.C. officials have said previously that the Deutsche takedown would begin this fall.

The building site is needed to expand the World Trade Center site to build a park, a new St. Nicholas Church, an office building and to provide space for a tour bus garage.

At the July 21 meeting, an L.M.D.C. contractor detailed how the building would be dismantled. A representative from the Gilbane Building Company, which was awarded a $45 million contract to handle what officials are calling the Deutsche Bank “deconstruction,” said the process would begin with a crane removing the water tower and the heating and cooling system from the roof.

After that, the ceilings, lights, carpets and other “soft” materials will be taken from the interior, said Philip Zezulinski of Gilbane. Then, interior gutting will take place, Zezulinski said, and the building will start “coming into itself.”

Workers will cut the concrete and metal holding up each floor, and slide the concrete onto the floor below after folding the metal supports, Zezulinski said. All this work will take place inside the building’s netting, which will muffle the sound somewhat, he added.

At the end of the process, a tower crane will take down the steel frame of the building, Zezulinski said. Each floor will be brought by the crane onto the floor below in what he described as a reverse of the construction of 7 World Trade Center. The entire process is expected to take 14 months, Zezulinski said.

About 25 trucks a day will transport materials away from the site, Zezulinski said. The trucks will be covered, Peterson said, noting that officials would not decide on the type of cover until they knew what kind of potentially hazardous materials were in the building. Peterson said that officials did not anticipate needing to use any surrounding streets as a staging area for the trucks, since the Deutsche Bank property could accommodate them.

Community board members and other residents voiced fears about the potential environmental impact of the deconstruction.

“Those contaminants better stay within that perimeter,” said Catherine Hughes, a Community Board 1 member who lives near the site. “Once it’s out, it’s hard to clean up.”

After the meeting, residents gathered around L.M.D.C. president Kevin Rampe and peppered him with questions and concerns about the procedure.

“I think you’re not being productive,” Rampe responded to one resident.

Andy Jurinko, the resident, said the next day, “I don’t think this is an easy situation for anyone, but I think his remarks were insensitive.”

Jurinko, who lives just blocks from the site at 125 Cedar St., said he was particularly concerned about the safety of the huge crane that will be used, especially since winds in the area can gust up to 75 miles per hour.

Some residents echoed Nadler’s demand that the Environmental Protection Agency take charge of the Deutsche Bank deconstruction. While he has been highly critical of the E.P.A. response to 9/11, Nadler said the federal agency has the expertise and the mandate to handle the project.

Peterson said the L.M.D.C. would consult with the city Department of Environmental Protection and the E.P.A. She said the building would be dismantled according to all applicable regulations on hazardous material removal.


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