State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Monday announced a State Supreme Court shutdown order against Peter J. Battaglia Jr. and affiliated corporations operating an illegal concrete crushing and demolition processing facility in Buffalo's Seneca-Babcock neighborhood.
According to community residents, the company spread dust, debris and odor throughout Seneca-Babcock for more than a decade. Monday’s court order follows a 2016 lawsuit filed by Schneiderman alleging that the company’s actions created a public nuisance under state law, and that it facility illegally operated without the required state environmental permits.
State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Chimes determined that Battaglia had been operating the facility without a required Solid Waste Facility permit since Feb. 13, 2013, and operated a concrete crusher without applying for an air permit.
Monday's court order required that the facility immediately cease all concrete crushing and construction and demolition debris disposal operations. Battaglia also was held personally liable for any penalties that will be determined at an upcoming hearing.
“This court decision is a victory for the Seneca-Babcock residents who will no longer be forced to breathe in harmful dust and debris,” Schneiderman said. “As we made clear in court, companies have a fundamental responsibility to comply with state law — and my office won’t hesitate to act to keep New York communities clean, safe and healthy.”
Until Monday, the Battaglia facility, located at 1037-1055 Seneca St., crushed concrete, as well as stockpiled and processed construction and demolition debris. The facility operated adjacent to homes on the northwest side of Peabody Street. The concrete crusher was about 250 feet from the backyards of homes on the street.
“I can’t wait to sit on my porch this summer and breathe clean air, not silica dust and diesel fumes," said Seneca-Babcock resident Diane Lemanski . "This is what peace and quality of life means to me."
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the state has zero tolerance for those who put the public's health at risk.
“For too long, this facility was skirting the laws and negatively impacting the environment in the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood," Seggos said.
The attorney general’s lawsuit included 30 affidavits from neighborhood residents, many of whom packed the courtroom Monday. Residents complained that they were literally driven indoors by “unbearable” dust and noise, “fear” over dangerous truck traffic, “sickening” odors and other noxious conditions created by facility operations.
"This decision will be felt by the residents of Peabody Street for generations," said Rebecca Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General’s office on more precedent-setting environmental justice victories.”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was thrilled that the ruling will force Battaglia to comply with clean air standards.
"With summer just around the corner, Seneca-Babcock residents will finally be able to enjoy sitting on their porches and watching their children play in the yard, without worrying about what they may be breathing in from Battaglia," Schumer said.