Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Over 600 Attend the 23rd Annual PACNY Environmental Conference - A Most Successful Conference!

The third day of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 23rd Annual Environmental Conference at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, is typically called Regulatory Day because of the New York State Department of Labor attending and discussing the status of the programs they run.  This year's conference was the most attended conference with over 600 attendees, attending the three-day conference.  Ms. Deb Sanscrainte, of Aramsco, and the chairman of the conference, and Ms. Lisa Brown, of Summit Environmental, administrator of PACNY did what has become their routine process of getting the conference together (the most successful ever!), keeping everyone on point, focused on the conference, and the presentations.  Peter DeLucia and Greg Mance of AAC Contracting worked the audiovisual equipment as pros, even though this was there the first conference working the audiovisuals.  They have also made sure that they have gotten most of the presentations up on the PACNY website, click here.  Usually, the day after the vendor reception, the next morning starts out very slowly.  With vendors and attendees enjoying coffee, tea, and danishes in the vendor area.

Vendor Reception
The conference opened with a discussion of the hazards of lead-based paint by Mr. Kevin Hutton of Rochester Colonial Manufacturing.  Followed by Mr. Stephen Gheen, P.E. of Gheen Engineering speaking on New York State Department of Education (NYSED) rules regarding hazards of lead-based paint and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has different certifications and licenses for working in schools on lead-based paint.  Then Mr. Peter DeLucia of AAC Contracting spoke on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations regarding lead exposure.  All three then took questions and answers from the audience regarding lead-based paint.  All three presentations can be found on PACNY's website.

Lead Panel Discussion - Stephen Gheen, Kevin Hutton, & Pete DeLucia
After a short break, the conference proceeded with the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) panel consisting of Dr. Eileen Franko, the Director; Mr. James Meacham Program Manager, Asbestos Control Bureau; Mr. Kirk Fisher, Program Manager, Licensing & Certification; and Mr. Ed Smith, Program Manager, Engineering Services Unit.  Questions and answers session was moderated by Mr. Tim Thomas of Tetra Tech Engineering.

Questions for the Lead Panel
Mr. Meacham filled us in that NYSDOL received another 3-year grant (runs through to 2021) to audit school's compliance with the EPA's Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA).  To date, NYSDOL has audited 115 schools throughout the state.  Dr. Franko re-emphasized as she does every year that Article 32 the mold law is a consumer protection law and there are limitations in the law.  Mr. Fisher informed us that the online notification systems are not working they want and because of staffing issues licenses and certifications are taking 30 days to 6 weeks to process.  Mr. Smith informed us that they will start working on the fast track variances, again.  Fast Track Variances are a pilot program for certain site-specific variances (SSV).  These are common variances that are issued on a regular basis.  They are planning 9 variances to be available at the start of the program - negative air shutdown, exhausting to an interior space, elevator door removal, fire door removal, crawlspace with dirt floor, intact component removal, buried cementitious (e.g., Transite) pipe, HEPA drilling spot removal, & air sampling at elevated exhaust duct locations.   These would be the guidelines for getting a fast track variance:

  • A completed SH-752 form must be submitted. The form must include all the necessary information for obtaining a variance, including the hardship. NO information about the work plan should be included with the application.
  • The SH-752 form must be submitted by a certified Project Designer working on behalf of the Petitioner.
  • The variance fee of $350 must be included.
  • In Section 9 of the SH-752 form, the Petitioner's Agent must write in the number of the FTV that is requested.
  • The FTV will be issued as it is written. If some part of the FTV doesn't meet the project's needs, then a standard SSV is required.
  • Other relief cannot be added to the FTV.
  • No re-openings or amendments are allowed.
  • Termination date extension requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis,
  • These FTVs have no bearing on notification times.
During the questions and answers, several questions were asked related to the expiration date of training by NYSDOL versus the expiration date of AHERA.  With NYSDOL's view that this is only an issue for the initial class and that student as long as they comply with the annual training requirement related to the birth month, this is not an issue.  We also learned that NYSDOL has suspended the disruptive enforcement/reconciliation of records process they developed back in 2013 in response to a Thomas DiNapoli audit saying NYSDOL had no process to find those breaking the law for notification, surveys, etc.  According to NYSDOL, they do not have the staffing to handle this at this time.
Mr. Thomas introducing the NYSDOL panel Dr. Franko, Mr. Smith, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Meacham
The conference ended with lunch and Future Environment Designs was proud to be one of the sponsors of the conference.  Though it ended with NYSDOL indicating they are having staffing issues that are obviously impacting licensing, certification, and enforcement.  It was good to hear that NYSDOL is moving forward with the fast track variances.  As usual, we are already looking forward to next year's conference which will be February 26, 27, & 28, 2020.  See you there!