Greenpoint residents testified Friday during a City Council hearing on a package of environmental legislation, which included two bills aiming to regulate and monitor city air quality.
One law clarifies the materials construction sites must account for in their plans to control construction dust and debris from leaking offsite. It also raises the minimum fine the city can impose on companies that fail to prevent dust from polluting the neighborhood.
The other bill requires the city to develop a system for monitoring air quality during and after commercial and industrial fires, tasking the Department of Environmental Protection to publicly post the data.
“We have a lot of work to do to right the environmental wrongs and to move forward to a more environmentally just future,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, a sponsor of both bills, during his opening remarks.
Shannon Clare, who lives in north Greenpoint, has witnessed firsthand the dangers of construction site dust inundating her neighborhood. When she was walking home along the Greenpoint waterfront one day, she got caught in a large “dust storm” and had to use a steroid inhaler for two weeks as a result.
“These construction companies have failed to mitigate their debris, and the entire neighborhood is paying for it instead of them,” she testified.
Françoise Olivas, a Greenpoint resident of 17 years, also has a bone to pick with local construction companies. She first noticed styrofoam particles, which she called “construction snow,” floating down from a construction site when she caught a moment of shade nearby in northern Greenpoint.
“The least we can do is the hold the construction companies accountable,” she said during the hearing, linking her child’s recent illness to the increased construction in her neighborhood.
The package of bills before the Committee on Environmental Protection also aims to reduce storm water overflow, encourage the city to educate building owners about sustainability measures and regulate natural gas-powered fuel cells.
While it’s up in the air when the City Council plans to vote on the package of environmental legislation, Elizabeth Adams, the legislative director for Council Member Levin, says that Levin hopes to vote on the air quality measures he has sponsored by this fall.