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Dust from 535 Carlton Avenue

535 Carlton Avenue
November 17, 2015 - 9:37pm

A resident on Dean forwarded me this complaint and the attached photo.  She writes: "I walked by this morning and thought, "What are we breathing?"  
The photo shows dust emanating from the construction site.  It rises in a plume and appears to blow southwest toward homes.  According to the witness, the source was drilling which stirred dust into the air. 
The location was the 535 Carlton Avenue construction site.  

The nature of the threat posed by the incident or impact.
Local community
One time
Public health
morning dust.JPG301.91 KB

Clarification from ESD

Priority: -> normal
State: -> Closed/resolved
Client: -> Public

The following clarification was received today from Nicole Jordan at ESD following our earlier inquiry on this report:

Thank you for your correspondence. As mentioned previously, ESD and the developer’s contractor were aware of the incident and the activity generating the dust has been discontinued as a result.

We are working with GLFC and the B14 site representative to better manage the dust resulting from this particular construction activity. Air monitors, which are only required to be deployed in areas of soil moving and earth disturbing activities, are out there.  The wind is blowing from an eastern direction and air monitors are placed according.  Residents can find them near Vanderbilt/Pacific, Carlton/Pacific, Dean/Flatbush and 6th/Pacific. I hope this additional information regarding the incident has been helpful.


Nicole Jordan

ESD Atlantic Yards Team

As Ms. Jordan has advised the activity which precipitated this report has been discontinued, we are closing this ticket as resolved. This status update is not intended to imply that all previously-reported instances of fugitive dust at the Atlantic Yards site have been resolved.

If the condition of fugitive dust that was observed in the photo included with this report recurs, please submit a new ticket, referencing this one.


Outstanding questions about incident and air monitoring

What's the rush to close this incident on AYW?  It is important for the State to respond qualitatively and communicate clearly.  The immediate area where this incident occurred has been exposed to years and years of continuous construction and the quality of the air has obvious health implications for the people next-door.  


I appreciate that the activity that generated the dust has now been discontinued, but this new response does not detail what that discontinued work was.  This leaves the concern not only that the contractor's flexibility remains, but that something that should have been monitored wasn't.  Here is what was passed on to me when I asked the originator of the photo (a resident who lives almost across the street) for more detail:  "...they were drilling when I walked by and (dust) was going in the air.  The floor was protected by an orange tarp but not sealed tight.  I can't imagine it's healthy"  In an earlier post I already quoted the resident as stating, "What are we breathing?" Along with the answer to that question; what was the discontinued activity?  


In terms of monitoring,  as I've already posted here, there did not appear to be an air monitor positioned to capture the impact on the residential area nearby.   Without an air monitor placed in the right location, the question of the degree and nature of the impact can't be answered.  Setting aside the issue of a limited requirement for monitoring detailed by Ms. Jordan, (the history of sources of dust on the project is varied, with quite a bit of it related to trucks passing on unpaved staging areas), the work I understand to have taken place appears to have been "earth disturbing" and should have been monitored.


Ms. Jordan writes is, "The wind is blowing from an eastern direction and air monitors are placed accordingly."  Perhaps it is just awkward phrasing, but the sentence is written in a way that infers the wind always blows "from an eastern direction"   My post specifically states that I checked the local wind direction and it was variable on the day of the incident.  The photo attached to the incident report appears to show a southeast gust blowing toward the southwest, or toward the Dean/Carlton intersection where there are homes but no air monitor on the day of the incident.  Ms. Jordan doesn't address the circumstances of the specfic incident and why there was no monitor where there apparently should have been.


Here is some follow up about the impact component of this specific incident that would be helpful:

-What was in the air and how much of it was there?

-What is the activity that is now discontinued?


Here is some follow up about air monitoring and the specific incident that would be helpful:

-What was the wind direction at the time of the incident?  

-How and when was the information about wind direction sourced on that day?  Is there a weather station on site?

-Who specifically placed the air monitors on that day?  If it was "MEs," do they work for anyone besides Reliant?

-What components of oversight were on the site at the time of the incident, and how did they become aware of the incident?

-Given the scale of the site, how many air monitors are needed for days when wind direction is variable?  


Finally, as always, if the State is interested in addressing the person who forwarded this information to me directly, I am happy to make the connection.




New dust incident at 535 Carlton

Please consult this incident from November 25th:  http://www.atlanticyardswatch.net/node/1806
AYW should have clear and public criteria if it is to close and/or resolve complaints.


Rationales for status updates are posted

I understand that you don't agree with our rationale for updating incidents as closed. However, it is not correct to claim that such rationale is not part of the record.



Response from ESD

State: Closed/resolved -> Active

The following response was received this morning from ESD:

Dear Peter K,

Thank you for your correspondence. ESD is aware of the incident and has already been in contact with the developer about activities that generate dust and the appropriate mitigation steps.  Also, air quality monitors are placed around the site and residents can find them near Vanderbilt Ave & Pacific St, Carlton Ave &Pacific St, Dean St & Flatbush Ave and Sixth & Pacific Ave. I hope the information provided has been helpful.


Nicole Jordan

ESD Atlantic Yards Team

We have asked ESD to clarify what steps have been taken to ensure the condition shown in the photograph does not recur at this location.


Was air monitor located relative to wind direction?

I appreciate Nicole Jordan's response, but it is too generic to be useful.  I also appreciate the AYW administrator following up with the State about the impact component of the complaint.  Unfortunately, the problem detailed is both an adverse air quality impact AND an apparently problem with monitoring on that day.  
The air monitoring locations Nicole Jordan describes would not capture dust blowing southwest off of the construction on 535 Carlton Avenue as this incident report clearly describes in the text and appears to show in the photo.  While the locations of air monitors Nicole describes are familiar, all of the locations east of 6th Avenue are north of Pacific Street.  All of the construction in block 1129 is south of Pacific Street.  
Although I didn't post it, when I filed the report I confirmed the local wind direction and it was variable.  Soon after I filed the incident report I posted an additional comment that on my request another resident had gone out and checked for air monitors and there were none in the position needed to capture dust blowing southwest off of 535 Carlton (and towards residents' homes).  What wind direction were the monitor's assumptions about the location of the air monitors based upon on that day?
The construction site is large which means there have to be an adequate number of air monitors in place to capture the impact of the construction actually taking place.  There is a history of the developer and State falling short in this respect, and there are residents who have already been exposed cumulatively to daily construction that can be measured in years.


Apparently no air monitor in needed location

State: Active -> New

I forgot to mention that a fellow resident went by and there was no air monitor in a location to capture this episode.