Satmar Ceiling Collapse Injures Workers At Illegal Job Site
Unauthorized work exposes workers to falling cement and asbestos at school rebuild in Spring Valley
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A ceiling collapse at a building owned by the Satmar hasidic sect’s network of schools, the United Talmudical Academy, injured at least two workers and exposed more to asbestos, the Journal News reported Friday.
Workers had to be decontaminated because they were not wearing the proper safety gear needed to deal with asbestos, which is a highly dangerous carcinogenic substance.
“They were trying to remove the balcony without a permit,” Spring Valley Fire Department Capt. Ray Canario told the Journal News. “In the process of jack-hammering, the ceiling came crashing down. I’d say six inches of concrete.”
One of the two injured workers reported being "dazed and confused," both signs of a head injury and shock.
United Talmudical Academy had applied for a building permit, but it had not been issued because the city had not finished reviewing the plans. The workers shouldn't have been on the balcony at all. Spring Valley Building Inspector Walter Booker told News 12 that the permit OTA applied for is for work on the first floor of the building only.
The workers were using jackhammers at the former East Ramapo School District Administration building, now owned by United Talmudical Academy, when the ceiling collapsed. UTA wants to level the building’s ground floor, remove its auditorium, and build two floors of classrooms in its place.
Booker said the United Talmudical Academy was warned that it cannot do any more work on the building until it gives Spring Valley an asbestos abatement removal plan, and until UTA gets a building permit. Both must first be approved by Booker before UTA can legally continue with work on the building.
“We’re ordering them to secure the building, and nobody can be inside. This could have been worse. They tried to do the right thing, but they moved too quickly.”
Booker reportedly issued UTA’s administrator, Yeidel Spitzer, a violation for doing work without a permit. A judge decides the amount of the fine if a conviction is entered into the record. The fine could be as large as $5,000 per day.
Firefighters also notified OSHA, which may issue violations, as well.
UTA also built an outdoor swimming pool at the site, which is fenced. But there are potential risks to people who could wander into the area of the pool and fall in, Booker told the Journal News, which reports that UTA has people "watching the pool."
[Hat Tip: Seymour.]