The owner of the former Beech-Nut plant in Canajoharie never obtained federally-required asbestos removal permits for demolition work on the 27-acre property, adding to a list of grievances surrounding the project.
According to a report in the Albany Times Union, Todd Clifford of the Ohio-based TD Development LLC purchased the building from Beech-Nut in December 2013 for $200,000 and began demolishing it last year. But Clifford never filed asbestos removal notices—which specify the amount of asbestos contained in a building, the companies to perform the asbestos removal, and the manner in which the work will be performed prior to demolition—with the Environmental Protection Agency. Asbestos is a carcinogen that causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, and lung disease.
Clifford, who owes more than $500,000 in property taxes on the site as well as unpaid bills to asbestos abatement companies, could face a fine of $37,500 per day for failure to file paperwork with the EPA. He additionally failed to file a survey of asbestos at the site with the New York State Department of Labor, which also has authority to enforce asbestos reporting and removal rules. The Labor Department issued a violation against Clifford in February 2014.
A federal asbestos removal notice for the Beech-Nut project was allegedly filed—only not by Clifford. Tom Gilbert, who says that Clifford owes him $20,000 for asbestos removal work, told the Times Union that he filed papers with the EPA in February to protect himself.
Gilbert stopped work on the plant in March; it was not the first time that work on the property has been halted. Work stopped last year after asbestos was released inside the site’s warehouse complex. And in January, according to the Courier-Standard-Enterprise, work was stopped when insulation from a warehouse that should have been removed from the work site remained on the scene. The insulation, said village Code Enforcement Officer Clifford Dorrough, could have blown onto the nearby New York State Thruway and into the village.
The former Beech-Nut Canajoharie plant is located downtown and can be seen from the state Thruway. Beech-Nut, a well-known baby food producer, was founded in Canajoharie in 1891 and for many years was the area’s leading employer. The facility was shuttered in 2010 and operations moved to a new plant in Florida, also in Montgomery County.
Per a report in the Albany Business Review, Clifford intends to use the former plant site for retail, commercial, and industrial redevelopment. But Montgomery County recently said that it expects to foreclose on the building because of the half-million dollars in delinquent property taxes Clifford owes.