April 11, 2013
Last week, at a conference co-sponsored by SPR, government officials, academics, attorneys, and scientists convened at Hofstra University to discuss the legal and practical consequences of Superstorm Sandy. Expert panels addressed the following questions:
- How can local governments physically modify their transportation, power, and sanitary infrastructure to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and by what legal mechanisms?
- Are massive floodgates feasible and desirable for the protection of the New York metropolitan area? Or do “soft” barriers such as man-made wetlands represent a better alternative?
- What planning and land use concepts can be used to encourage smart real estate development that responds to climate change risks?
- Will claims of “scientific uncertainty” hinder climate change adaptation efforts to the same extent that similar claims have hindered climate change mitigation efforts?
- Where and how should coastal communities be rebuilt? What is the legal framework for government-led “strategic retreat” from the coast?
- How may relief be obtained from FEMA? How may relief be obtained from insurance companies?
- What federal, state, and local government programs are available to homeowners and businesses to aid recovery?
- What resources are available to help individual homeowners who have lost everything in the storm? What has been the experience in New York’s underprivileged communities, and can that be improved?
The conference was chaired by SPR principal Michael Bogin and Hofstra Law Professor Carol Casazza Herman, with critical support from SPR principal Pamela Esterman. SPR principal Steven Barshov participated as a lecturer, focusing on the integration of infrastructure resilience into planning and development.
Sponsors of the conference were the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, the New York State Bar Association, and SPR.
For more information on Sandy recovery or climate change adaptation in the context of development, please contact Michael Bogin, Steven Barshov, or David Yudelson.
Conference speakers: (L-R) Professor Katrina Kuh, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; Associate Dean Jennifer Gundlach, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; Dean Eric Lane, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; Nassau County Supervisor Ed Mangano; SPR Principal Michael Bogin; Professor Carol Casazza Herman, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.
March 15, 2013
On April 4, 2013, experts in environmental law, environmental policy, local government, planning, engineering, and environmental science will convene at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY to discuss lessons learned in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. This conference will examine the significant flaws that Sandy revealed in New York’s housing, transit and electric power systems and infrastructure, and the legal implications of addressing those vulnerabilities and climate-change-related impacts. The panelists will discuss how making communities more resilient will require a rethinking of physical changes to the environment and also a reconsideration of local, federal and state land use and environmental laws and regulations. Insurance and risk management have played, and will continue to play, a central role in response and recovery; those topics, as well as sources of funding for rebuilding and mitigation, will also be addressed.
The conference is co-sponsored by Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C., the American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources, and the New York State Bar Association. SPR principals Steven Barshov, Michael Bogin, and Pamela Esterman will participate in the conference as co-chairs, moderators, and speakers.
For more information about the conference and to register, please visit the conference website.
March 14, 2013
Crains New York Business reports that two bills related to recovery from Superstorm Sandy were passed unanimously by the New York City Council on March 13, 2013.
One bill creates additional City oversight over the physical elevation of homes, in an effort to prevent home collapse or construction accidents associated with subpar construction work. According to the press release announcing this bill, the legislation requires that:
- Construction plans clearly state whether a project will involve home elevation work;
- Contractors give 48 hours’ notice to the Department of Buildings before elevating a home, which will give the Department the opportunity to monitor the work;
- Home elevation work be done under the supervision of an approved special inspector; and
- The Department of Consumer Affairs provide education to the public regarding the types of work home improvement contractors can do, and the licenses and permits needed by such contractors to do different kinds of work, including home elevation work.
The other bill waives fees for various City applications, permits, and inspections associated with the repair or reconstruction of Sandy-damaged property used by small businesses.
For more information about this legislation and other Sandy recovery measures, please contact Michael Bogin or Steven Barshov.
November 20, 2012
A recent review of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) Spills Database by the Long Island-based environmental consulting firm Roux Associates, Inc. shows that DEC has been inundated with nearly 1,700 new spills of chemicals, petroleum and other hazardous materials in the few weeks since Tropical Storm Sandy hit the region. Typically, there would only be a few dozen spills over such a period.
Below is a summary of the number of new spills opened by DEC in Region 1 and Regions 2 since the storm through November 12th:
- Kings County– 91 Spills
- New York County– 75 Spills
- Queens County– 135 Spills
- Richmond County– 80 Spills
- Nassau County– 805 Spills
- Suffolk County– 504 Spills
The Spills database shows that the vast majority of these reported spills are small residential releases. There are far fewer industrial or commercial reports, but they appear to involve more serious releases—with larger quantities released and greater impacts on soil and/or groundwater. How DEC will ultimately manage all of these spill remains to be seen.
Sive, Paget & Riesel has decades of experience managing spill reporting and remediation. Please contact us if you need help understanding your obligations in a spill, have been impacted by a spill, or need assistance with a spill response.
November 11, 2012
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) has issued a Hazardous Waste Generator Order that explains how to manage hazardous waste generated as a result of the storm in the affected counties of Suffolk, Nassau, New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange.
Hazardous waste generators who follow the terms of the Order will be exempt from the otherwise hefty hazardous waste generator fees and taxes under Articles 27 and 72 of New York’s Environmental Conservation Law. The Order provides expedited procedures for creating a hazardous waste consolidation area and requires that “Hurricane Sandy Waste” be written across the top of applicable waste manifests. Generators who do not have an EPA identification number or who create an off-site consolidation area must obtain a temporary EPA identification number.
The Order is in effect from November 6, 2012 until December 6, 2012.
For more information about managing cleanups in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, please contact Michael Bogin or David Yudelson.
November 5, 2012
We at Sive, Paget & Riesel wish you the best in dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. In the event you need assistance, our staff has significant experience in the following areas:
- Analyzing insurance policies to determine coverage and assisting in the documentation, presentation and resolution and potential litigation of insurance claims;
- Analyzing commercial and residential leases regarding rights of termination due to casualty, rent abatements and the division of restoration obligations;
- Coordinating environmental, structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical engineering investigations and reports for purposes of safety, habitability, restoration and cost recovery;
- Providing contract review and due diligence assistance prior to hiring response contractors, including environmental testing proposals, environmental remediation contractors, demolition companies, waste disposal, and restoration contractors;
- Assistance with the submission of applications for federal, state and local grants and loans;
- Coordinating environmental remediation for issues including mold, water damage, petroleum, asbestos and sanitary waste cleanups;
- Permitting and approvals for rebuilding buildings, shoreline stabilization and dock/wharf facilities;
- Overseeing the due diligence investigation of alternative or temporary facilities;
- Providing referrals for experienced environmental testing companies, remediation contractors, waste disposal contractors and restoration contractors with which we have successfully worked in the past.
We are immediately available to discuss the foregoing at no charge. If you have questions or believe we can be of assistance please do not hesitate to call David Yudelson at (917)295-6449 or Michael Bogin at (917) 626-1656.
From the website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:
Permitting requirements for businesses and homeowners seeking to discharge water from flooded properties are temporarily suspended. If water contains significant recoverable material, such as fuel oil floating on water that could cause significant further damage to the structure if not removed first or significant environmental damage, all reasonable measures should be taken to collect and properly dispose of the material prior to pumping out the structure.
The suspension of permitting requirements remains in effect until November 6, 2012, and applies only to flood-related discharges where an expedited response is needed.
Where a significant spill has occurred, the owner or operator must report the spill to DEC’s Spill Hotline (1-800-457-7362) and use environmental contractors to handle, treat and dispose of such substances properly prior to discharging to the City sewer system. Contractors who collect and dispose of released petroleum or hazardous substances must comply with all requirements for the handling, treatment and disposal of the collected materials. DEC sent a letter to NYC Department of Environmental Protection (PDF) outlining the permit requirement suspension.
Additional guidance on the above requirements can be found at the following weblinks:
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