New York Attorney General Letitia James and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a court-ordered agreement to shut down Battaglia Demolition, Inc. (Battaglia Demolition), a construction and demolition debris processing facility that has created harmful conditions in South Buffalo’s Seneca-Babcok neighborhood. The agreement resolves a lawsuit brought by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and DEC against Peter J. Battaglia, Jr., owner and operator of Battaglia Demolition and related companies, for illegally operating the solid waste facility without required state environmental permits. This flagrant lawless activity imposed harmful impacts on the surrounding community, including but not limited to incessant dust, noise, odors, vermin, and traffic. In addition to mandating the full clean up of the site, requiring the creation of a buffer of new natural space between the property and neighborhood, and restricting future uses for the area, the agreement requires Battaglia to pay up to $1,050,000 in penalties.
“For years, dust, noise, odor, and other environmental assaults caused by the Battaglia facility plagued communities in South Buffalo, threatening residents’ health, wellbeing, and quality of life,” said Attorney General James. “New Yorkers deserve clean, safe, and healthy environments to call home, and my office will always work to uphold those standards statewide. As a result of our efforts, this site will finally be cleaned up, and Mr. Battaglia will pay his fair share for the damage his facility has caused.”
“Today’s enforcement action is sending a strong and resounding message that New York will not tolerate companies that pollute our environment and blatantly disregard the health and safety of communities,” said Commissioner Seggos. “DEC will always work tirelessly to pursue companies like Battaglia Demolition and hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law to ensure communities don’t have to endure these types of environmental hazards again.”
Residents living near Battaglia Demolition repeatedly filed complaints about dust and noise, which peaked with the increase in Battaglia’s concrete crushing activities, for which the owner repeatedly failed to secure the proper permits. The facility ended operations in 2018, but the property remains littered with refuse and cement debris.
As part of the settlement ordered today by the Erie County Supreme Court, Battaglia will remove all concrete debris and remaining solid waste from the property within 120 days and create a natural area on a portion of the property to return much-needed green space to the site. The settlement also restricts the property from being used for any industrial activities in the future. Battaglia will pay a civil penalty of at least $50,000 but is liable for up to $1,050,000 in penalties contingent on compliance with the agreement.
The lawsuit filed by OAG and DEC included 30 affidavits from neighborhood residents describing a community forced to remain in their homes due to “unbearable” dust and noise, “fear” over dangerous truck traffic, “sickening” odors, and other harmful and unhealthy conditions created by Battaglia Demolition. The facility was repeatedly cited by both the city and state for violations such as improper maintenance of an industrial site, lack of appropriate permits for activities such as concrete crushing and putting the surrounding community’s health and safety at risk. In fact, Mr. Battaglia disregarded six notices of violations issued by DEC and never submitted permit applications despite a 2016 court order upholding DEC’s right to require those applications.
DEC staff assisting in this case were Al Zylinski and Michael Emery from Division of Air, Lisa Czechowicz from Permits, Peter Grasso and Efrat Forgette from Materials Management, and Maureen Brady from the Office of General Counsel.
This matter is being handled by the Environmental Protection Bureau and is led by Assistant Attorney General Patrick Omilian, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic and Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa Burianek. The Environmental Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.