New York City subway painters are calling on the city transit authority to adopt tougher lead abatement standards on capital projects.
Union leaders and city council members say they want all contractors removing lead paint in the subway to be certified by SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority now requires for bridges.
"The current MTA and New York City Transit policy for lead-paint removal on structural steel is dangerous to the city workers and it's dangerous to New Yorkers," Queens Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley told NY1, Time Warner’s local cable-news television channel, at a recent worker rally outside MTA headquarters in Manhattan.
‘Irresponsible and Preventable Exposure’
“It’s no secret to the MTA that the irresponsible removal of lead paint from structural steel projects is hazardous to the health of all New Yorkers,” said Crowley, a card-carrying member of District Council 9 New York IUPAT, Painters and Allied Trades.
MTA officials could not be reached for comment Monday (Dec. 27), but they have said in published reports that they require contractors to follow the painting council guidelines, which ensures safety. The workers and councilmembers say it is not enough.
“We need look no further than the 2007 New York Supreme Court ruling that exposed the MTA as responsible for the health problems of several workers during the renovation of the Grand Central Terminal,” Crowley said at the rally, reported the Queens Gazette.
In March 2007, a judge in New York County Supreme Court ruled that the MTA was responsible for the health problems of several workers, who were exposed to large amounts of lead dust during the renovation of Grand Central Terminal, but the MTA has not committed to a higher standard since that ruling, the Gazette reported.
“Given this irresponsible and preventable exposure to large amounts of lead dust, the MTA has still not committed to a higher standard since that ruling. MTA, let’s keep our workers, our residents and our city safe. Let’s protect New York against lead paint,” Crowley said, according to at the Gazette. Councilmember James Vacca (D-Bronx) also attended the event.
Fear of a ‘Catastrophic Event’
"Our fear is that a catastrophic event occurs that may injure the general public, a worker or the environment, and the entire industry and the entire industry now [would be] in danger of being closed down," Jack Kittle of District Council 9 told NY1 at the event.
Any agency can require that a successful bidder for one of its projects be certified by the SSPC to help assure that a contract is awarded to an experienced, responsible contractor. While the New York City Transit Authority requires SSPC certification on their bridge and maintenance of way projects, the agency does not require it in their Capital Projects RFP process, the Gazette reported.