Owner of illegal concrete crushing operation ordered by State Supreme Court to pay $1 million fine

A win for residents who have organized against the company for over a decade, but the protracted case still goes on as members demand a resolution

The owner and operator of Battaglia Demolition, Inc., Peter J. Battagalia, has been ordered by New York State Supreme Court to pay a $1 million fine for failure to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement which was signed in August 2022. This is a win for residents who have organized and called for accountability for over a decade. However, the lengthy legal proceedings continue in court, which residents criticize.

“On April 2nd 2018, Judge Chimes shut Batatglia corporation down. Five years later we still have no quality of life because of this business. Peter Battaglia has gotten away with not maintaining or securing his property. We are still living with rats. People illegally dumping and the silica dust still blowing off the mounds and mounds of concrete that are still there and should be taken off the land the way it is, not crushed. The grass has not been cut since the shutdown and is a breeding ground for the rats,” said Diane Lemanski, longtime member and organizer with Clean Air.

“It’s a view of ugliness that we have to live with on a daily basis,” Lemanski continued. “It took the city of Buffalo over four years to step up and clean up the building and the debris that was in it. It is time for us to have our quality of life back and Battaglia to pay the price for his actions. It’s time for this case to be settled. We need a final decision now.” 

Residents living in Buffalo’s Seneca Babcock neighborhood have organized for more than a decade to hold Battaglia Demolition, a waste transfer site that was illegally operating a concrete crusher, accountable. Battaglia’s operations shook the foundations of residents’ homes, polluted the air with diesel particulates, and blanketed the neighborhood in silica dust, a pollutant known to cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lung disease and lung cancer. 

Since the 2018 shutdown of Battaglia Demolition, the property has fallen into abandonment, with piles of concrete dust still swirling from the site through the neighborhood air. The derelict property has become a site with illegal dumping, and is now full of garbage and refuse, attracting rats.  The building Battaglia Demolition once occupied caught fire and was demolished after an emergency order from the city’s housing court last year. 

Battaglia reached a settlement agreement with the NYS Attorney General and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in 2021 under NYS Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Judge Chimes. After over a year of inaction, Battaglia finally signed the agreement in August 2022.  

“Residents of Peabody Street were cut out of the settlement process and were not happy with the very lenient terms that were given to Battaglia,” said Clean Air Executive Director Chris Murawski. “Now we see it coming full circle that despite being given the benefit of the doubt, he has once again taken no action to improve the site, continuing to negatively affect the residents’ quality of life.” 

Clean Air will continue to monitor the ongoing legal actions however, the community envisions the best use of the land that will bring true justice is for the property to be gifted to the community and held by a Land Trust as green space and a carbon sink to make up for the years of suffering.

“Accountability for the company and its owner are long overdue,”  said Phil Gambini, an organizer with Clean Air. “It’s about time Battaglia faces consequences for his actions.”


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