Broome files claim against state, County says cleanup is N.Y.'s responsibility
Broome County is demanding that New York state pay for the cleanup of a construction problem that forced hundreds of county employees from their offices for a month.
The county, in legal papers signed by Executive Barbara Fiala, charges that the state is liable for sending construction dust throughout the six office floors of the Edwin L. Crawford Office Building in April and forced the county to relocate every worker in the building while the structure was scrubbed from floor to ceiling.
Western New York-based Crane-Hogan Structural Systems is the contractor that has been working on a $9.6 million renovation of the parking garage beneath the building, which is part of an office complex operated by the state Office of General Services. On April 14 and 15, dust from the project flowed up the building's elevator shafts and permeated the offices, prompting Broome to close the building and hire a contractor to clean the structure and test the air.
The state had not responded to the county's legal filing as of Thursday, Marcus said. OGS spokesman Brad Maione refused to say if the state plans to pay the county, or to answer other questions on the matter.
There were concerns that the dust might contain asbestos or silica, both of which are dangerous if inhaled; silica was found in "many" air samples collected before the cleaning, according to environmental contractor Jennings Environmental management of Pennsylvania. But samples taken after the cleanup were a fraction of those allowed under federal standards.
More than $600,000 of the county's cost is related to building cleanup, records show. But the county also is seeking reimbursement for items ranging from "lost time" for employees to office supplies that had to be purchased while employees were scattered across offices in Binghamton and Johnson City.
Asbestos-containing materials in the building were not disturbed, Jennings found.
Crane-Hogan's Rochester attorney filed a Freedom of Information Law request seeking copies of county records on the case. A message left for the attorney last week was not returned.By Doug Schneider • firstname.lastname@example.org • Public Service Editor • July 4, 2009