For the second time in less than a month, a state agency has ordered a Texas man to stop demolition work at a former paper mill in Lockport.
This time, state Labor Department officials say the owner of the property at 89 Mill St. knew there was asbestos contamination but continued to allow unprotected workers to perform the demolition.
Property owner Scott Krzyzanowski was initially told after a Sept. 3 site visit to stop demolition work until the results of asbestos tests came back, state officials said.
On Sept. 14, a few days after receiving the test results, the Labor Department cited Krzyzanowski with several violations, including using a non-licensed contractor and non-certified workers, starting demolition work without an asbestos survey and refusing to allow inspectors to perform their review.
On Friday, inspectors found workers again performing demolition work at the site. The Labor Department then issued a stop-work order.
Before the asbestos test results were in, Krzyzanowski told The Buffalo News he doubted there was much asbestos in the 16,000-square-foot, largely roofless building.
Krzyzanowski, a Dunkirk native who lives in Texas, could not be reached to comment on Tuesday.
Officials want the asbestos on the site cleaned up, said Maureen Cox, director of the agency's safety and health division in Albany.
"The concern is when it's disturbed and when it's put into the air," Cox said. "That's when theres a potential for exposure to the local community."
The City of Lockport had issued a demolition permit to Krzyzanowski, said Chief Building Inspector Jason C. Dool. Normally, an asbestos survey is required before such a permit is issued.
However, the city was under the impression an exception could be made if the owner of the property was doing the work himself, Dool said.
Upon consultation with the Labor Department, that exception was found to apply only to owners of single-family homes, he said.
After the Sept. 3 encounter between Krzyzanowski and a Labor Department inspector, Krzyzanowski accused the inspector of insulting him, a charge the agency has denied.
State investigators began looking into work at the property after the state Department of Environmental Conservation received an anonymous tip, officials said.
Krzyzanowski could face up to about $20,000 in penalties, Labor Department officials said Tuesday.
Leo Rosales, an agency spokesman in Albany, said while the department does not want the Lockport property to sit idle, the property owner has to follow established rules and guidelines. If he doesn't, he's putting the community at risk.
"If the community sees some activity there," he said, "we need to know about it."