A large tannery once part of the G. Levor complex on Second Street may be demolished as early as next month — and at no cost to the city.
The rapidly deteriorating 19th century structure, finally abandoned about a decade ago when it was owned by a New York City entity known as Metro Leather, came to the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency last summer when longtime barber Joseph Paciolla became concerned about asbestos insulation falling from a heating pipe that spanned Grove Street near his barbershop.
Following confirmation and removal of asbestos last fall — as well as a second remediation inside the plant in January — the EPA has notified city officials demolition may begin in June..
Mayor Dayton King said Friday he enthusiastically awaits the removal of one more eyesore in the city.
“The more of those abandoned buildings we can get down, the faster we can improve our city,” he said.
King said it appears EPA will pay the entire cost of removal and remediation.
The tannery site is located a block from McNab Elementary School and a few hundred yards from the scenic Wohlfarth’s Pond Park, where children often congregate.
EPA officials did not return a telephone call for comment, but documents filed by the agency with the city discuss contaminants found on the property and the dangers they present.
When asbestos-laden insulation began falling into the street from the large heating pipe that connected the two Levor plants, Paciolla said he became concerned about neighborhood children and complained to the state Department of Environmental Conservation in the spring of last year. Soon EPA was involved.
According to EPA documents, the insulation material on the 200-foot section of pipe contained 4 percent chrysotile asbestos and 40 percent amosite.
During an Aug. 14 inspection, EPA officials determined, the “asbestos containing material” referred to as ACM, “posed a threat to nearby residents, site trespassers and passersby on Grove Street.”
When contractors removed the insulation in September, officials noticed additional asbestos material as well as chemical drums inside the plant, the documents show.
Elevated levels of chromium and lead were detected in dust inside the building as well as in the building, itself, the report said. Additional asbestos insulation covered pipes and tanks.
“The building has a collapsed roof and numerous open doors and windows which could allow asbestos fibers and/or heavy metals to escape the building into the environment,” the inspectors found. More than 50 chemical drums and some 40 smaller containers of tanning chemicals were also discovered.
EPA officials seemed particularly worried about a fire that would result in “a significant release of airborne heavy metals into the surrounding neighborhood,” while runoff from firehoses would likely send contaminants into Cayadutta Creek, running along the building.
In recommending demolition and remediation, EPA officials concluded hazardous substances in “quantity and concentration” exist on the site and may “present a substantial threat to the public health and the environment.”
EPA records do not trace the origin of the tannery, but they do follow ownership to 1943 when Levor & Co. bought it and the 1966 transfer of title to Klairimpex Metro Leather Import & Export. The property was purchased in 1987 by Genesco (owners of Wood & Hyde, a tannery on Ninth Avenue), which sold it in 1989 to Sol Green. It was sold in 2005 to Phillip Melnick of Staten Island and in 2007 to Eddie Malyar of Staten Island, EPA determined.
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Categories: Schenectady County