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Aborted Halloween Rave in Toxic Building Scares Up $150K in State Fines

By Gwynne Hogan | November 3, 2016 5:47pm
 The owners of the Nuhurt Plastics building in Greenpoint have to pay for their violations of state law.
The owners of the Nuhurt Plastics building in Greenpoint have to pay for their violations of state law.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

GREENPOINT — A developer who tried to turn a Superfund site into a super fun one with a massive Halloween DJ party was fined $150,000 for environmental violations leading up to the aborted fiesta.

In preparation for international party promoter CityFox's Halloween rave in 2015, workers at the NuHart Plastics Building, a state designated Superfund site, cut hoses and tampered with a storage drum, allowing contaminated waste to spew onto the floor, according to a recent consent decree with the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Chinese Developer Bo Jin Zhu of Dupont Street Developers LLC, which owns the former plastic factory at 93 Dupont St. in Greenpoint, paid half the fine following a July order from the DEC. The rest of the penalty was due by the end of August.

Those fines include two earlier incidents where workers were drilling without state mandated supervision and were spotted letting potentially contaminated runoff spew out onto the sidewalk, according to the state environmental watchdog.

A day before the scheduled Halloween rave, the DEC was contacted by an associate of the building's owner to tell them about the party, despite the fact that state law required them to warn about any "change of use" with 60 days advance notice, according to the state's decree.

Fire Marshals showed up the next day and ended up shutting down the party before it began, citing safety violations, according to the state.

Then DEC went to investigate on Nov. 2 and Nov. 4 and workers were still on site breaking down lighting and sound gear.

Investigators found that a storage drum with toxic contaminates had been moved, and a hose connecting to it had been cut, and the goo inside had oozed out onto the floor.

Several hoses that were supposed to be four feet high and allow the state to test potentially contaminated groundwater below the building had been cut so they'd be flush with the floor a worker at the site told the state officials. They hadn't been capped off, the state said. 

More hoses that connected to recovery wells below ground had been cut and were oozing contaminants, according to the DEC.

Advocates with the local environmental watchdog group Neighbors Allied for Good Growth thanked the DEC for fining Dupont Street Developers LLC and said the money should go towards improving Greenpoint's environment.

"It was irresponsible for the developer to even allow this party to be planned on site in the first place.  A toxic waste site, that is undergoing interim cleanup activity, is no place for a giant party with thousands of people," said board member Mike Schade. "We're glad to see the DEC has finally held the developers accountable for allowing a giant party to be planned on a hazardous waste site."

Party promoters at CityFox, who were more recently shut down at an East Williamsburg location where they tried to build a venue deemed unsafe by the Fire Department, had earlier apologized on Facebook, stating that they didn't know anything about the building's toxic history. They didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

But before the Halloween debacle, Dupont Street Developers LLC, which bought the building in May of 2014 for $23.25 million, had raised flags with state officials.

On Dec. 5 of 2014, state inspectors who visited the site found a worker operating a drilling rig without the proper supervision of an environmental specialist, and saw sludge running off the site onto the sidewalk. Workers were also not monitoring the air quality at the site which was required.

DEC returned five days later and found the developers were still digging at the site without the right supervision and not monitoring air quality.

Plastics were manufactured at the building in the 1940's and 1950's and later NuHart and Company used the it to make vinyl siding and sheeting. The factory shut down in 2005 and was soon after was monitored for contaminants.

It was moved onto the State SuperFund site list in 2010, because of soil and groundwater contaminated with the chemicals phthalates and trichloroethylene, left over from the plant's days as a plastic factory.

The chemicals are considered carcinogens and prolonged exposure can be linked to changes in sex hormones, low sperm count and quality, obesity, reduced female fertility, preterm birth/birth defects, low birth weight, and altered behavior in toddlers, according to Neighbors Allied for Good Growth.

As a Superfund site, the the preliminary phases of a clean up effort that will be tracked by the state. The owners want to convert a less contaminated section of the site into apartments and a public review process for that will begin later this month.

Dupont Street Developers LLC declined to comment. Bo Jin Zhu couldn't be reached for further comment.