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.”
Last Thursday marks the adoption of a bill that would force plant operators to tell the public if and when municipal sewage is spilled into New York’s bodies of water.
This is great news for Sheepshead Bay and the surrounding areas as this coastal community with five nearby beaches is especially susceptible to sewage spillovers.
The measure states that sewage plant operators will have to notify local health departments within four hours of the waste release, as well as issue a public news release letting the public know when raw or partially treated sewage is discharged into New York waters.
It is the hope of environmental groups who worked on the bill that the public would receive water quality notifications through the press similar to the ozone, pollen and severe weather warnings.
The federal EPA estimates that between 1.8 million and 3.5 million Americans become ill annually from contact with sewage in recreational waters.
The bill still requires a signature from Governor Andrew Cuomo before becoming a law.
Once the notification system is in place, you can bet Sheepshead Bites will be broadcasting alerts about any such discharges locally.