In No Spray Coalition v. City of New York, NYELJP, jointly with Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic, pursued federal litigation against the City of New York for its haphazard spraying of pesticides in contravention of the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation Recovery Act, and the State Environmental Quality Review Act. In addition, NYELJP represented 8 spray workers, who were not given adequate safety training or protective gear, and who consequently suffered from pesticide poisoning.
The Project, with other environmental organizations, zealously reviewed and commented upon city and state Environmental Impact Statement for the pesticide spraying program. Out inquiries into the dangers of the pesticide spraying initiated federal/state investigation into spraying malfeasance and led to significant and mostly unprecedented fines: the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC) levied a million dollar fine against the manufacturer/contractor upon our urging, and the EPA imposed an additional $500,000 fine. A decision by the federal District Court (Eastern District of New York) has upheld the Clean Water Act restrictions and permit requirements for spraying over water. Later, a Sixth Circuit court decision upheld our premise that a Clean Water Act permit was necessary, as was adherence to pesticide labels pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act.
9/11 Aftermath and Zadroga Act Boundary Setting
Out of concern for the health of all those engaged in rescue and security operations and all those who live and work in Lower Manhattan, NYELJP conducted its own sampling in and around the disaster site and discovered unacceptably high fiberglass and asbestos readings. Our organization’s Freedom of Information Act requests to EPA, as well as other State and City agencies led to the release of critical data and prompted the government, media, and the public to take notice of the severity of the public health threat. Our work prompted EPA to undertake the cleaning of thousands of apartment interiors in Lower Manhattan. A report published by the Inspector General confirmed NYELJP’s suspicion that EPA lied to the public and the citizens of New York City by underplaying the drastic ramifications of this tragic event, as per instructions of the White House. NYELJP continues to be actively involved with many leading law, health, and scientific organizations and continues to focus much needed attention to the continued effects of the WTC disaster. We worked on to the expansion of the boundary line related to the geographic criteria for eligibility under the Zadroga Act–EPA’s initial boundary was set at Reade Street, but NYELJP’s criticism and documented evidence of exposure pathways helped extend the boundary northward to Canal Street.
In Ball v. NYCHA, NYELJP, along with co-counsel at Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project, used environmental and land use laws to represent the marginalized interests of nearly 100 public housing residents in a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority, who sold rare park space in Central Harlem’s St. Nicholas Houses development to facilitate the construction of a charter school.
Williamsburg Health and Environmental Law Project v. City of New York
An action under the Clean Water Act to stop the dispersion of lead from the City’s renovation of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Concerned Parents of the Bronx v. City of New York
A Title VI action to force the cleanup of a toxic city-owned parcel of land adjacent to an elementary school and to prevent the construction of a middle school upon a toxic site. (Co-Counsel with Center for Constitutional Rights)
Long Island Environmental Groups v. Brookhaven National Laboratory
An action to prevent a scientific laboratory from dumping one million gallons of water containing radioactive tritium laced water into the Peconic River on Long Island.
Esperanza Community Gardens v. City of New York
An action to prevent the destruction of a 20 year-old garden on behalf of the community and garden cultivators. (Assisted the Attorney General of New York to halt the decimation of over 100 gardens).
Parents of PS65 & Neighborhood v. TCE
An action objecting to the siting of a public school over a plume of Trichloroethylene, which has been categorized as a likely carcinogen. The source for this plume has been designated as a New York State Superfund site.