Monday, November 19, 2012

Toxic brew of Superstorm Sandy floodwater and fuel oil stinks up Manhattan Beach apt. building

Toxic brew of Superstorm Sandy floodwater and fuel oil stinks up apt. building

It’s the stinkiest building in Brooklyn, disgusted tenants charge.

Nauseating fumes from a nasty cocktail of fuel oil and seawater are making them gag at 301 Oriental Blvd. in Manhattan Beach.

Superstorm Sandy is to blame — and a landlord who’s maddeningly slow in cleaning up and repairing the apartment house, several said.

“Every night my head hurts,” said tenant Marissa Anastasia, 74, whose health is fragile after suffering a brain aneurysm four years ago. “When I wake up in the morning I can’t breathe.”

The stink that won’t go away is a new twist in the tales of woe coming from hard-hit Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods where thousands struggle with storm damage.

The killer storm flooded the Oriental Blvd. building’s basement up to the ceiling and sprang leaks in oil stored for the boiler, leaving behind 8,700 gallons of toxic brew.

Nearly three weeks after the savage storm the stench lingers in the six-story property because work crews still haven’t finished cleaning the sludge out of the basement.

Numerous tenants are holed up at 301 Oriental — among them a wheelchair-bound 90-plus-year-old — despite a letter from the landlord that warned, “If you choose to stay in the building you are doing so at your own risk.”

Breathing fumes from spilled heating oil can cause difficulty in concentrating, dizziness, headaches, increased blood pressure, nausea and irritated eyes, nose and throat, health experts say.

In addition to the foul odor the 49-unit building has no electricity and an emergency boiler provides heat and hot water only briefly in the morning and evening.

Anastasia and her husband don’t have money for a hotel or family they can stay with and don’t want to impose on friends whose home they visit at night to watch TV.

“When I get up in the morning I feel dizzy,” said Alex, 66, a school custodian.
“Our throats are so sore we’re hardly even talking.”

The fuel fumes at the 1930s-vintage building aren’t as overpowering as they were the first week after Sandy hit but they’re still giving Mike Vosburgh frequent migraines.

“There are times I go in solitude and cry,” said the retired postal service supervisor, 61.

His sister Sue, 57, said the darkness, cold and stink have made their home feel “like a war zone.”

Tamara Berlyavsky kept the windows open in her freezing apartment when she and her husband and daughter tried sleeping there.

“It smelled like a gas station,” she said.

After four nights they decided it was too dangerous to be there and bailed out. Though they’re staying at a friend’s house now her clothes still reek.

“I was in a meeting and was embarrassed,” the civil engineer said. “I told people, ‘Don’t smell me.’”

Landlord Tomas Rosenthal of Hampshire Properties said in a statement that he called in cleanup crews, plumbers and electricians right after the storm and is “doing his outmost to provide relief and restore all services as fast as possible.”

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