New York City Mayor Waives Asbestos Fees as Part of Hurricane Ida Recovery Response

According to NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, repair and re-occupation of buildings damaged by Hurricane Ida is essential to the public health, economic well-being, and safety of New York City. In an attempt to help NYC repair damage caused by Hurricane Ida, Mayor Bill De Blasio, in early September, declared free asbestos removal services in New York. Emergency Executive Order No. 235, signed on September 7, 2021, retroactively dated the fee waivers back to September 1, 2021. On top of waiving fees for asbestos removal, Mayor Bill De Blasio waived the 7-day advance notice requirement for asbestos projects. For an applicant to be deemed eligible for suspension of the fees, they only needed to submit a certification that such work was due to storm damage. Normally, NYC requires submission of asbestos abatement permits and workplace safety plans one week before work starts. Emergency Executive Order No. 235 took effect on September 7 and remained in effect for five days.

The waiver of asbestos fees was meant to relieve an additional burden for property owners who were already dealing with storm damage. NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio recognized that property owners would require permits, inspections, document filings, and applications associated with repair work as part of the recovery after Hurricane Ida. So, in an attempt to help property owners, the mayor allowed the Department of Environmental Protection to waive fees related to asbestos removal. On the other hand, the Department of Buildings was given the power to waive fees associated with construction document filing fees, electrical permits, special fees, and permit filing fees.

More Tools and Recommendations for Communities Cleaning up After Hurricane Ida

The Environmental Protection Agency offers several tips and resources for handling debris during storm cleanup. For instance, the EPA has developed an interactive mapping tool of 12 types of landfills and recyclers that manage disaster debris. The interactive mapping tool provides crucial information and locations of more than 20,000 facilities that can manage different materials which can be found in disaster debris. The “disaster debris recovery tool” can be used by disaster response, recovery, and planning specialists to encourage the safe recovery, recycling, and disposal of disaster debris.

When handling debris after a natural disaster, the EPA advises people to always wear proper safety equipment such as an N95 respirator mask, goggles, and gloves. People are also advised to exercise caution when disturbing material to prevent injuries and other health effects such as those associated with asbestos. The EPA specifically encourages people not to disturb materials they suspect to contain asbestos during cleanup. Disturbing asbestos-contaminated materials can lead to the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Also, inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis. Usually, the risk of asbestos exposure increases after hurricanes and other natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes. After a storm, old buildings, damaged homes, and industrial properties can become a source of asbestos exposure for cleanup crews, homeowners, and first responders.

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