Battle over contamination at Watchtower site in Warwick
Karma is a bitch.
Prior to beginning construction, the WTS was well aware that the Warwick site had soil contamination.
From the 2009 Final Scoping Document:
E.2.e. Potential soil contamination; the applicant desires to reference potential soil contamination information from the previously approved DEIS for The King’s College. An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) was performed by The Kings College and some of the noted areas of concern were mitigated. Further work was done on the site by Touro College under their ownership. Another ESA was performed for Watchtower when the property was purchased. To some extent, the current information disclosed in the ESA should be referenced in this section. The ESAs should be included in an Appendix to the DEIS and the location of any remaining areas of concern should be shown on a plan included in the document. Any additional mitigation should be noted in section E.2.i.
From the 2012 Findings Statement:
An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) conducted on the site indicated a number of areas of concern including former underground storage tanks, potential subsurface contamination due to waste sewerage piping, potential subsurface contamination due to filter sand beds from the sewage treatment plant in a nearby wooded area, the sewage treatment plant, a former drum storage area and potential subsurface contamination due to historic operations at the former INCO facility. There are four areas of potential soil contamination contamination that are identified on the site. Each of these four areas will be remediated prior to the start of site construction.
Thanks OrphanCrow for the links to the official relavent documents confirming some of our speculations.
Jeff said: 3) they didn't know about the pollution. This means, in essence, they are going to go into court and say "we're idiots and these bad people took advantage of us." This option might be the most entertaining.
Even if that had been a possibility, why wait 6 years after purchase and after the decontamination work has already been completed and new buildings built, to establish who is responsible for the cleanup?
WT has its own legal department. If the property had been misrepresented prior to WT deciding to purchase, legal action would surely have been initiated long before 2015.
I found out who the WTS bought the Warwick property from:
...Devine described it as originally built 50 years ago for the International Nickel Co. (now known as INCO) for its research and development division. The company closed that division in 1983.
Since then it has been owned by King’s College, which had received approvals for its plan to develop a 1,600-student campus there; and then by Touro College.
“We actually bought it from Touro College,” Devine said last year.
So the WTS knew about the contamination before they bought it, had cleaned it up on their own dime, proceeded with construction, and have only decided to sue now?
Almost makes it sound like just another attempted money grab.
Wait - so there were 2 owners who had the land prior to the WTS purchase of it, both colleges.
Obviously neither of them built a campus there. It is reasonable to conclude that they both knew about the contamination. It is also reasonable to conclude that since they both later sold the property, they reached the conclusion that the site was not amenable to having thousands of people assembled there regularly.
So now comes the WTS, buys the property, plows on through with construction of a compound to house a couple thousand people indefinitely, and while construction is going on, they decide to sue 3-owners-back because the ground remains contaminated even 30+ years after they stopped dumping waste into it?
Do I have that right?
Who exactly is the WTS retaining to give them legal guidance on real estate matters - Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe?
Perhaps INCO should just let the story die.
sir82: Who exactly is the WTS retaining to give them legal guidance on real estate matters - Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe?
Eh...I think that the WTS gets their advice from real estate gurus.
It appears that the college that was supposed to built there (Touro College of Oesteopathic Medicine) was built in Harlem instead. Oh...and by the way...not sure if this has any bearing...Lorenz Reibling, et al., has investments in Harlem - which go up in value with a nice college like that situated there.
There is much that goes on behind closed doors in the real estate world. Much.
One reason the issue of contamination may have only recently come to a head is the building plans at Warwick involve basement tunnel links between buildings - links requiring substantial depths of land excavation.
It is possible that the scope of the pollution has now been found to be far worse than shown on prior due diligence reports.
Where surface samples indicate significant toxicity, depth samples are bound to indicate more, given the rapidity of toxins leaching down into the soil and water tables.
As they say, 'all will be revealed' in due course. But in general, it shows Jehovah and His holy spirit have been asleep at the wheel.
Vidiot said: Almost makes it sound like just another attempted money grab.
I doubt there is any 'Almost' about it.
If either of the colleges had proceeded with construction, they would have needed to hire engineers, bore test and monitoring wells, and hire site cleanup contractors at full going rates.
While WT would need to have of the same test and monitoring wells and specialty knowledge on site decontamination, most if not all of the work would be completed by volunteer labor utilizing excavation and hauling equipment already owned by WT for development of the site. Though the actual cost of cleanup would probably be a fraction of the cost of that charged by an outside contractor, if there is a claim due, I expect WT would then claim a marked-up price as though the work was completed by a hired contractor.
While some may consider that as dishonest, I think it makes good business sense. The WT is the contractor dealing with a contamination issue not caused by itself.
If you personally built the house you live in and later sustain a loss so that part of that house needs to be repaired through insurance, should insurance only reimburse the cost of materials since the labor was free initially? If you plan to complete repairs yourself, should you be paid the full repair value, just as though the repair was hired-out to an outside contractor as it would be under most circumstances?
The issue at hand is, IF WT purchased the property at a lower cost in compensation for the known contamination issues, is there any cause for a claim against any prior owner?