FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE09-10
October 13, 2009
Michael Saucier 718-595-6600
Tony Sclafani (DOB) 212-556-3473
Frank Gribbon (FDNY) 718-999-2025
New York City Department of Environmental Protection Launches New Asbestos Technical Review Unit
New Multi-Agency Effort to Increase Public
Safety at Abatement Sites and Enhance Filing and Review Process through
State-of-the-Art On-Line Reporting and Tracking System
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Commissioner Steven W. Lawitts today announced the launch of the new Asbestos Technical Review Unit (A-TRU), a joint initiative with the Department of Buildings (DOB) to increase public safety at abatement sites Citywide while also enhancing the filing and review process for environmental contractors and members of the construction industry. The new unit includes staff from both DEP and DOB who together will review project applications for compliance with the City’s asbestos rules and the Construction Codes; moreover, A-TRU staff will provide critical site safety data to the Fire Department (FDNY), helping to protect the safety of first responders, workers, and the general public. A-TRU also includes a new state-of-the-art, on-line Asbestos Reporting and Tracking System (ARTS) through which contractors will obtain asbestos abatement permits, and a new comprehensive technical guide that will help industry members adapt to the new permitting process. A-TRU was developed as part of the implementation of the 33 recommendations issued by the Construction, Demolition, and Abatement Working Group created by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and led by Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler after the fire at the former Deutsche Bank building in lower Manhattan in August 2007.
“Today’s launch is the result of a comprehensive and coordinated review and analysis of asbestos abatement operations that was conducted following the tragic fire at the former Deutsche Bank building,” Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler said. “This new technical review unit will strengthen our efforts to ensure the safety of our first responders, workers, and the general public at asbestos abatement sites, as well as provide an effective and efficient permitting process for these projects.”
“The Asbestos Technical Review Unit and Asbestos Reporting and Tracking System are innovations that will improve and increase inter-agency coordination, public communications, and overall transparency for asbestos abatement projects,” Acting Commissioner Lawitts said. “Through ARTS, DEP will collect more data about asbestos abatement jobs, efficiently review jobs in collaboration with the Department of Buildings, and provide key site safety information to the Fire Department.”
“Asbestos abatement is a critical step in the life of a construction project - one that must be performed carefully to ensure the safety of the public, first responders, and construction workers,” Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said. “The creation of this highly-trained unit and the development of new regulations will significantly increase the oversight of this complex work and assure New Yorkers that abatement operations are being scrutinized more than ever before.”
“We’re very proud to have worked with our partners at the Department of Buildings and the Department of Environmental Protection to develop this important and innovative new unit,” Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said. “With A-TRU, we can be certain that the safety of contractors, the public and all of our first-responders is paramount and that all of the proper standards are being met to protect them.”
Located at DEP headquarters in LeFrak City, A-TRU staff will conduct a technical review of abatement projects that impact key life safety elements such as egress, fire protection, and building safety prior to issuing permits for such projects. The Unit’s joint permitting operation will combine the expertise of both DEP and DOB, enabling the professional engineers, registered architects, and industrial hygienists of the two Departments to expeditiously analyze a project’s abatement means and methods and its compliance with building and fire safety standards. Projects that affect life safety elements will be required to obtain an A-TRU permit before a job may begin. Furthermore, FDNY will receive automatic notification of all projects that require an A-TRU permit, triggering inspections by its local fire companies.
The A-TRU process also features a new, interactive on-line filing application known as ARTS (www.nyc.gov/dep/arts) that enables applicants to submit applications and receive approvals (or objections) electronically. ARTS includes a variety of key automated functions, such as project site geo-referencing, contractor licenses confirmation, and review level determination. The new application also allows individuals to monitor, manage, and modify their projects anytime after filing by simply logging onto the website at their convenience. Users may re-use or revise information from previous filings while updating their portfolios on the website, digitally storing and tracking all documentation related to their projects through every step of abatement, from application to close-out. Industry members consequently can focus their efforts and energy on their projects rather than dedicating hours and other resources to data entry and travel to and from separate regulatory agencies.
To further assist industry members with the new permitting process, DEP, in conjunction with DOB and FDNY, has developed a new technical guide entitled, “Asbestos Technical Review: A Guide to the New York City Asbestos Regulations.” Available on-line (www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/cda/atru_guidance_document.pdf), the guide provides a tutorial for contractors and the general public on the abatement process from before a project begins to after its completion. It contains simple, easy-to-follow instructions on how to conduct asbestos abatement jobs, including detailed information on new rules and forms, as well key safety items like providing egress at abatement sites.
A-TRU was developed by the Construction, Demolition, and Abatement Working Group comprised of DEP, DOB, FDNY, the Law Department, and the Mayor’s Office. The Working Group collaborated with the New York City Council to enact and implement a series of new laws, including Local Law 37 of 2009 which created A-TRU. Each of these laws was designed to strengthen the safety, oversight, and coordination of construction, demolition, and abatement operations Citywide.