New York – In year 2005, an inspector from the Department of Environmental (DEP) took a floor tile from an empty Co-op apartment building and sent that to a lab. After testing, the results came out positive for asbestos. It was proved that there were traces of asbestos in the structure, which was almost 40 years old.
The city then ordered to conduct a massive removal and reflooring at 15372 apartments of the building at an expense of US$20 M to the tenants.
However, that remediation work became a waste of time and money for 55000 co-op owners, a lawsuit which is being filed in Bronx Supreme Court says. The suit is being filed for the co-op owners.
The plaintiffs argue 86000 air quality tests carried out thus far indicate no asbestos fibers in the air prior to, during, and after the flooring work. The plaintiffs criticize the fake scare created by the over-enthusiastic city inspectors. They are now asking their money back.
“All the New York City facilities have this adhesive. All the developments of Mitchell-Lama developments have this sort of glue. But, nothing is there in the air and nobody else has been compelled to pay,” Stephen Kaufman, a former Assemblyman, said in a statement. Kaufman is going to represent the tenants’ RiverBay Corporation in the lawsuit against the city.
The precautionary measures for asbestos and its testing cost approximately $4 M every year. This causes 4% increase in maintenance for all owners, according to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit demands apartments of the Co-op city should not be subject to mandatory asbestos abatement and asking for damages. The amount has not been specified.
Since the order for remediation, the job of tiles replacement in one apartment required 6 specialists dressed in full blue hazmat wears, with tents for decontamination arranged in the basement of the complex. There are 35 buildings in the complex.
Kevin Keenan, who supervises all the asbestos abatement projects, said so far none of the maintenance workers has ever become sick from exposure to the tiles in the whole history of the city.
“We have been working in this complex for 4 decades. We do not have any issues and none has been sick or hospitalized from mesothelioma or asbestosis. It is not a health risk. However, the city is putting these rigorous regulations on us,” Keenan said.