A.G. Schneiderman Brings Suit Against South Buffalo Demolition Debris Facility To End Dust, Noise, Other Nuisances In Community
Noxious Conditions Created by Battaglia Demolition Facility Have Plagued Neighboring Residents
Suit Seeks to Halt Battaglia’s Operations Until All Nuisances Stop And Facility Complies With State Law; Suit Also Seeks Financial Penalties For Violations
Schneiderman: I Will Keep Working To Uphold the Rights Of Residents Of Seneca-Babcock To A Safe, Clean, And Healthy Environment
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recenty announced he is suing Peter J. Battaglia, Jr., owner and operator of Battaglia Demolition Inc. and related companies, to force the South Buffalo demolition debris facility to end noxious conditions – described as “unbearable” and “sickening” by residents – that have plagued the surrounding community. The suit charges that Battaglia’s dust, noise, odors, vermin, truck traffic, and other harmful impacts have created a public nuisance under New York State law, and that the facility is illegally operating without required state environmental permits.
The Attorney General’s suit, which was filed in the Erie County Supreme Court, seeks a court order halting operation at the facility until all public nuisances are abated, all state permits necessary for the operations conducted at the facility are obtained, and the facility is brought into full compliance with the law. In addition, the State asks to the court to assess financial penalties for Battaglia’s violation of multiple state environmental laws.
“For too long, dust, noise, and odor from the Battaglia facility has created noxious conditions in the Seneca-Babcock community,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “These conditions have robbed residents of such basic pleasures as opening their windows, relaxing on their porches, and enjoying their backyards. I am committed to bringing these harms to an end, and holding Battaglia fully accountable for blatantly and knowingly disregarding both the law and the well-being of the community. In taking this action, I stand with the Seneca-Babcock community to ensure their right to a safe, clean, and healthy environment.”
The Battaglia facility, located at 1037-1055 Seneca Street, stockpiles and processes construction and demolition debris. The facility borders the Seneca Babcock neighborhood, abutting homes located on the northwest side of Peabody Street. The facility’s cement crusher, installed in late 2011, is located as close as approximately 250 feet to backyards of homes on Peabody Street.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit charges that the Battaglia facility has created a public nuisance under state law by creating ongoing dust, noise, vibrations, odors, vermin infestation, and excessive truck traffic that harm the property, safety, and comfort of the neighborhood residents, as well as disrupting their daily activities. The lawsuit also charges that the facility is operating without required approvals by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) – including a permit for controlling air pollution from the concrete crusher – that protect the environment and health of the surrounding community.
Community members have repeatedly objected to nuisance dust, odor, noise and other impacts of the facility, with complaints about dust and noise peaking with the increase in Battaglia’s crushing activities. The Attorney General’s lawsuit includes 30 affidavits from neighborhood residents, describing a community literally driven indoors by “unbearable” dust and noise, “fear” over dangerous truck traffic, “sickening” odors, and other noxious conditions created by the Battaglia facility’s operation.
The facility has repeatedly been cited for numerous violations of law by the state and City of Buffalo. Battaglia has disregarded six notices of violation issued by DEC – as well as January 2016 court order – directing him to comply with DEC permit requirements. In May, Peter Battaglia told DEC personnel that he would never submit these permit applications.
“The long history of non-compliance and the vast number of environmental violations associated with the Battaglia facility is unacceptable in an age when corporations are well aware of the duties they have to protect our environment,” DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “I applaud the work of our investigators and scientists who worked to hold these polluters accountable, and the resolve of those in the Attorney General’s office, who help uphold the environmental laws in place that protect our communities.”
Rebecca Newberry, Executive Director, The Clean Air Coalition of W.N.Y., said, “We applaud the efforts of the New York State Attorney General Schneiderman for protecting the quality of life for families Buffalo. The fact that Battaglia Demolition has forced families to live with such horrible conditions, operating without required permits, has gone on for too long. The work of the Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff has been instrumental to bring justice to this community.”
Joseph A. Gardella, Jr., Chair of the City of Buffalo Environmental Management Commission, said, “The lawsuit filed today by Attorney General Schneiderman is an appropriate response to years of irresponsible behavior by Peter Battaglia, Jr. at his operation on Peabody Street in the Seneca Babcock neighborhood. The Buffalo Environmental Management Commission, which I have chaired for more than 10 years, has investigated a variety of Mr. Battaglia's illegal activities at the site, most accomplished without appropriate permits, leading to air pollution emissions to the surrounding neighborhood. The Commission is grateful for the diligent efforts of Attorney General Schneiderman's office in their investigation of these activities and commends them for this important step forward to improve the living conditions for the residents of Seneca Babcock and surrounding neighborhoods.”
The Attorney General thanks DEC Region 9 Counsel Maureen Brady, Assistant Regional Permit Administrator Lisa M. Czechowicz, Division of Air Quality Engineer Alan J. Zylinski, and Division of Materials Management Engineer Efrat S. Forgette for their assistance in the case.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jane Cameron. Brian Lusignan, and Michael J. Myers, scientists Linda M. Wilson, Jennifer Nalbone, and Mauricio Roma. The Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Lemuel M. Srolovic and is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg. The matter was investigated by Investigator Shawn McCormick of the Attorney General’s Buffalo Regional Office. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.