They smelled something fishy.
Inspectors caught contractors at a controversial Brighton Beach development site working later than their city-issued permit allows, and now locals are worried the corner-cutting could put them in danger. Developer Cammeby’s International Group is building a 40-story tower over Trump Village Shopping Center, but the land used to be home to a gas plant, and National Grid must clean up the coal tar, mercury, and cyanide left behind before Cammeby’s can erect its condos.
State environmental honchos warned remediation work at the site near Neptune Avenue and W. Fifth Street would stink to high heaven, and one tipster said he whiffed the tell-tale odor when contractors were doing the illicit work earlier this week.
“They are working on the property, and they excavated the site, and fumes started coming out — you could smell the tar,” said a resident who shared photos on condition of anonymity.
Workers were digging a trench to run electrical wires for the soon-to-be construction site, but an inspector shut them down for working past their curfew on April 12, according to a spokesman from the Department of Environmental Conservation, which has oversight on the project.
“Our region two spills inspector stopped by the site for a visit around 10:30 pm,” said environmental engineer William Wu. “He noticed that they were working beyond the time allowed on the Department of Buildings permit, which was 10 pm, so he shut down the work for the night.”
Contractors are working at night to not interfere with deliveries to the shopping center, and safety is workers’ top priority, a Cammeby’s spokeswoman said.
“We are committed to ensuring that this project is carried out with maximum safety and minimal neighborhood disturbance. As with all of our projects, our top priority is the well-being of local residents, and we have the track record to prove it,” said Christa Segalini. “Ultimately, we look forward to improving the quality of life for all residents in the area by delivering an attractive, community-oriented shopping destination that serves the neighborhood’s needs.”
But neighbors contend they have repeatedly broken the rules.
“There’s no construction during the day, only the night, up until midnight, and the night before, they worked all night through,” said neighbor Alfia, who asked that her last name be withheld.
But the diggers haven’t gone deep enough to loose toxin-riddled sediment, according to an area pol.
“As far as I was told, they’re not going deep enough for that, but they’re putting in air monitors just in case because sometimes they don’t know what is in there,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Brighton Beach), whose office has received a dozen complaints about the construction site. “Safety of the surrounding people living there is most important.”
National Grid is responsible for cleaning up the site, because it acquired the company that polluted the land — Dangman Manufactured Gas. The utility must submit a remediation plan to the state before conducting the required cleanup, but it has not yet filed such a plan, Deutsch said.
Residents who smell suspicious odors or see late-night construction should call Deutsch’s office and 311, he said.