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DHS Commissioner Taylor To Homeless: Drop Dead!

Last month, Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5, wrote a letter to Gilbert Taylor, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which included questions and concerns of proposing a homeless shelter next to a large chemical storage facility.

Samaritan Village, a not-for-profit organization, and DHS have proposed a 125-unit transitional housing facility at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

On Tuesday, June 24, Mr. Giordano received Commissioner Taylor’s response. Among other things, Taylor said in a two-page letter, that “the clients’ (homeless families) experience living next to a chemical plant adjacent to the Cooper Avenue property will not be dissimilar to those residents who have lived in the proximity to the facility for years.”

But Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said that Commissioner Taylor’s response is both irresponsible and callous.

“There are only a few homes that are located across the railroad tracks and none as close as the proposed shelter,” he said. “I don’t believe anyone, given a choice, would choose to live next to a dangerous chemical plant filled with highly flammable and toxic chemicals.”

Yet that’s exactly what the DHS and Samaritan Village are proposing for more than 300 women and children who don’t have a say in the matter.

Last month, Holden visited 79th Place (just south of Cooper Avenue) and revealed that Independent Chemical Corporation produces and stores hundreds of chemicals in two buildings next to the proposed shelter. Dozens of plastic drums labeled “hydrochloric acid” can be seen from the street; many were stored outside within feet of shelter.

Concentrated hydrochloric acid (also known as fuming hydrochloric acid) forms acidic mists. Both the mist and the solution have a corrosive effect on human tissue, with the potential to damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines irreversibly.

Chemical plant is a danger on many levels

Dr. James Cervino, a scientist and expert in the field of hazardous chemicals, contamination (water or soil) and its impacts on humans and marine life, said that this site is dangerous and many of the chemicals are cancer causing, caustic to breathe, and can cause blistering third-degree burns to the skin if the drums are opened/damaged by a super storm event, as well as accidental occurrence.

Dr. Cervino agrees that this facility is a severe fire hazard. Plant owner worries about July 4 fireworks display near plant

In fact Jonathan Spielman, an owner of Independent Chemical Corporation, said in front of NY1 reporter Ruschell Boone and civic leaders that he most worries about the Fourth of July and the dangers of fireworks hitting the facility.

To compound Mr. Spielman’s worries, the Atlas Park Mall, located less than a block from his chemical plant, plans a fireworks display on July 5.

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