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Judge rules Battaglia Trucking & Demolition not operating under proper permits

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Michael Mroziak, WBFO
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A State Supreme Court Judge in Buffalo has ruled that a company which crushes concrete for recycling on its Seneca Street site has not been doing so under proper regulations and permits. Neighbors hailed the decision, which effectively halts operations at Battaglia Trucking and Demolition for the time being. 

State Supreme Court Justice Deborah Chimes delivered her decision Monday morning. In addition to ruling that the company did not properly renew permits and follow regulations to protect the environment, Judge Chimes decided that company owner Peter Battaglia may be held liable for damages. The extent of those damages will be determined in a future hearing.

According to Judge Chimes' decision, Battaglia was operating a solid waste facility without a validly renewed permit since February 2013 and had operated a crusher without applying for an air permit.

Attorneys for the company insisted Battaglia had applied for renewal of their permit but the judge determined the state's Department of Envirnmental Conservation had not granted such renewal.

Nearby neighbors, including residents of Peabody Street, have complained of dust and noise pollution for years. They welcomed Monday's decision.

"It was more than we ever expected," said John 'Jack' Wagner, a resident of Peabody Street for 57 years. "It was a win-win-win scenario. We're ecstatic about it. I'm overcome with joy."

Wagner told reporters they aren't looking to shut down a business but simply want them to play by the rules and protect the immediate environment. Others outside the courtroom said they're simply looking forward to enjoying the coming warm-weather months on their porches without the pollutants that have bothered them for years.

"Hopefully, our air will get better," said Diane Lemanski. "People don't realize, when the wind blows so does that dust. It goes in our houses, on our houses, on our children, on our shoes. We're dragging it into the house. And that's not counting the diesel fumes from the hundreds of trucks going down our streets daily."

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Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO
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Jack Wagner, a 57-year resident of Peabody Street in Buffalo, reacts to a ruling halting concrete crushing operations at neighboring Battaglia Trucking & Demolition. Wagner said the ruling was "more than we ever expected."

Attorneys representing Battaglia did not comment as they left the courtroom. WBFO's attempts to contact Peter Battaglia at his company were unsuccessful.

"This court decision is a victory for the Seneca-Babcock residents who will no longer be forced to breathe in harmful dust and debris," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a prepared written statement. "As we made clear in Court, companies have a fundamental responsibility to comply with state law — and my office won’t hesitate to act to keep New York communities clean, safe, and healthy."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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