DEP Investigation Begins After NYC Building Asbestos Exposure

After an asbestos problem was reported at Staten Island’s Mount Maresa site, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) prompted an investigation as to why a local engineer previously signed a statement that noted that the site was clear of asbestos, making way for a demolition project to begin.

According to reports, Gaspare Santoro, the engineer responsible for writing off the documents that stated that Mount Maresa was free of asbestos, has ran into disciplinary problems in the past, stemming from similar issues. In 2004, the engineer was put on disciplinary probation for two years after “grossly negligent failure to comply with the substantial provision of local laws governing the practice of architecture.”

After asbestos fibers were reported  in one the Mount Maresa buildings this weekend, the DEP sent out inspectors to investigate the site’s buildings on Thursday, and asbestos was found in several buildings. Consequently, the DEP issued an order for all work to stop on the demolition project.

A Full Investigation to Begin

Per the DEP, Santoro filed the documents that noted the buildings were asbestos-free in April. In fact, the paperwork notes that all six buildings at the Mount Maresa site were free of asbestos, all of which have been slated for demolition, in order to build 250 townhouses. There is now a possibility that Santoro will face numerous charges, including termination and permanently losing his DEP asbestos certification. However, a full investigation is to take place before Santoro is given any violations.

“There will be a full investigation of the gentleman that signed off on the asbestos,” said a spokesperson for the DEP.

Since the asbestos findings, DEP inspectors have been at Mount Maresa daily, and an asbestos abatement project is currently underway, lead by The Asbestos Contractor Inc. Before the demolition project can start up again, new documents must be filed after the asbestos abatement project is complete.

Santoros, along with the company that hired him, Savos Brothers, failed to return phone calls or make comment regarding the incident. Savos Brothers bought the property from the Society of Jesus for $15 million.

Meanwhile, James Oddo, president of the Staten Island Borough, wrote a letter to the DEP, asking them to address public concerns regarding asbestos exposure. City Councilwoman Debi Rose co-signed the letter.

“My office is in constant contact with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that any demolition that may occur does not expose residents to any environmental risks,” Ms. Rose said.

After Santoros’ two-year suspension, he agreed to a $5,000 fine, continuing education classes, and a citation for failing to properly retain the walls on several homes that were built in Rosebank’s Pouch Terrace area. According to records, Santoros accepted the deal in order to keep his licensing and continue with his practice.

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, such as malignant mesothelioma or asbestosis, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information on your legal rights and for a free, no-obligation case consultation, we invite you to contact our experienced mesothelioma law firm today.


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