Residents of Seneca-Babcock have long complained that Battaglia Demolition runs roughshod over their Buffalo neighborhood, with the rumbling of heavy trucks and the dust from concrete being crushed ruining their quality of life.
But when the state Attorney General’s Office recently filed a lawsuit against the waste-recycling business, Peter J. Battaglia Jr. said that it was politically motivated.
Battaglia is a cousin of Buffalo developer, School Board member and former Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl P. Paladino.
“I’m the political punching bag for Mr. Paladino,” Battaglia said. “I’m sure someone’s up for re-election. That’s when I get poked at.”
The attorney general’s lawsuit accuses Battaglia Demolition of creating “unbearable” conditions and of sickening neighbors.
The suit seeks a court order to shut down operations at Battaglia until the company ends what the state calls its “noxious conditions” and gets the necessary state permits to run its business. It also requests that a judge impose fines on the company for violating environmental laws.
“For too long, the Battaglia facility has tormented the Seneca-Babcock community,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement. “The dust, noise, odor and other noxious conditions created by this facility have robbed residents of such basic pleasures as opening their windows, relaxing on their porches and enjoying their backyards.”
Battaglia told The Buffalo News that he has not yet been served with legal papers. “We run a lawful operation,” he said. “We are in full compliance with all of the regulations.”
Residents on nearby Peabody Street have long complained that Battaglia’s operation at 1037 Seneca St. harms their lives. They cite heavy truck traffic on their residential street and dust emanating from the business, leaving a powdery white-gray coating on their homes, vehicles and yards.
Rebecca R. Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition, said the state’s lawsuit “will mean a lot” to neighborhood residents.
“The fact that Battaglia Demolition has forced families to live with such horrible conditions, operating without required permits, has gone on for too long,” Newberry said. “We applaud the efforts of the New York State Attorney General’s Office for protecting the quality of life for families in Buffalo.”
The Attorney General’s Office alleges that Battaglia’s concrete crusher was illegally installed in 2011. It’s just 250 feet or so from the yards on Peabody.
Battaglia said he started crushing concrete there 18 years ago.
“We’re doing the same thing we’ve always done,” Battaglia said.
Battaglia added that if he were breaking any environmental laws, his business should have been shuttered immediately.
“If there’s anyone that’s not in compliance, it’s them for not issuing (permits) properly,” Battaglia said. “I’m just a person who tries to get up and do my job, support my family, send my kids to college, run a business and take care of my employees.”
The acting commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation sees it differently. “The long history of noncompliance 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,” Basil Seggos said in a statement.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., toured the neighborhood in late 2014 and called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review operations at Battaglia.