Superstorm Sandy demolished homes, businesses and infrastructure, leaving all sorts of environmental health hazards in its wake. One such hazard were the toxic fumes at the 301 Oriental Blvd apartment complex that resulted when flood waters collided with oil barrels in its basement, forcing the residents of to seek less arid smelling confines.
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Last month we reported on the slow pace many landlords were taking in helping their tenants return their Sandy damaged buildings back to working order, focusing in on a building located at 301 Oriental Boulevard that was plagued by a wretched smell emanating from its basement. Still cursed with the menacing stench, the tenants of 301 Oriental Boulevard are taking their landlord to court, according to a story in the New York Daily News.
The tenants of the smelly Manhattan Beach building took their landlord to court on Tuesday telling housing court Judge Kevin McClanahan that the fumes have made them sick.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” Victoria Shklovsky told the Daily News. Shklovsky’s 79-year-old mother Nadezhda has been suffering from coughing, hypertension and shortness of breath, all a result from the fumes according to her mother’s doctor. Victoria also wasn’t spared the hazardous fumes, suffering inflamed eyes, vomiting and headaches. Both Victoria and her mother have temporarily left the building for fresher confines.
According to the Daily News, Judge McClanahan took a stern stand, telling the tenants that for their case to succeed, they’d have to have expert proof of the toxicity of the fumes. The Judge reminded the tenants that, “Your suppositions, even your fears, are not evidence,” and urged them to subpoena the tests the Environmental Protection Agency conducted on the building. Addressing Shklovsky’s claims directly, the Judge said, “A medical doctor is not an agency that can go onsite and determine danger.”
For his part, landlord Tomas Rosenthal’s lawyer, Avi Peison, claimed the landlord had already spent over $100,000 on repairs, having recently restored electricity and heat earlier this month. He also noted the difficulty of expediting speedy repairs in light of the building’s Zone A location.
The story has drawn the attention of local political leaders. Ari Kagan, 45th Assembly District Leader, came to court to support the tenants, and told the Daily News that, “I call it the building of horrors. I would encourage the landlord and managing agent to sleep one night there.”
Some of Southern Brooklyn’s landlords appear to be slow to help in fighting for their tenants’ rights to heat, hot water and electricity, and may even be adding obstacles to the mix.
Take, for instance, the case of 301 Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, which we told you about last week. A horrible stench has haunted the building for weeks, ever since Hurricane Sandy flooded the basement, causing water to mix with barrels of oil in storage. Residents complain the landlord has done little to rectify the situation, and many are concerned about their health as headaches and fatigue have set in.
“It’s been a month, going on a month, and we still have no utilities,” said 20-year-resident Susan Vosburgh. “Apparently there’s still oil in the building. I doubt any utilities will touch us because it has to be safe when they come in.”
Although pumping has already occurred, Vosburgh said the unskilled migrant workers the landlord hires keep missing rooms filled with the toxic oil-water mixture, and just this morning returned for the umpteenth time to pump out the elevator pit. On their first attempt at draining the basement, she claims they illegally pumped the hazardous materials into the street.
“The migrant workers he gets for like a dollar an hour, they forget this room and that room,” Vosburgh said. “I just want this cleaned up, we’re breathing the fumes.”
They might want to start adding military grade gas masks to the emergency supply lists for people dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, especially if you are a resident of 301 Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach.
Residents of the apartment building blame the smell on the result of flood waters mixing with barrels of oil located in the basement, creating an intolerable odor that has persisted for over two weeks.
According to a report by News 12, the smell emanating from the basement of this residential building is so bad that it has forced everyone to move out until the landlords figure out how to exorcise the stench for good. Local priests are on standby, and may be asking the good Lord why the heck there were barrels of oil sitting in the basement.
FINAL UPDATE (3:20 p.m.): Police surrounded a Manhattan Beach apartment building, responding to a call of an emotionally disturbed person who had barricaded himself in the sixth floor apartment he shares with his mother.
After nearly two hours, the man was pulled from the apartment and strapped to a gurney, shouting what appeared to be psychotic ramblings.
“You’ve commited crimes. This place is a federal offense. It has radiation way above the levels…” he shouted, trailing off. As they attempted to put the man into the ambulance, he shouted “Help!” and “I want to go home.”
Police told Sheepshead Bites he was being taken for a psychiatric evaluation. A source added that the man has had similar breakdowns in the past, and is well known to neighbors.
A family friend who said he has known the man since he was 4 years old, noted that “he’s had issues… I just hope he doesn’t end up homeless.”
Sources told Sheepshead Bites that no one was in the apartment with the man, and that he was unarmed. No officers were hurt during the rescue effort, in which officers were on the roof, fire escape and surrounding the building, as well as in several apartment units near the disturbed man’s. An airbag was set up underneath the apartment unit’s window in case he jumped.