Rochester Gas & Electric is demolishing two retired electric generating stations – Beebee Station in the City of Rochester, and Russell Station in the town of Greece, NY. LiRo is providing construction management and contract administration services, and general oversight of the demolition and remediation contractor. Both stations had been in operation for decades, and as a result, contain many potential environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos containing materials, PCBs, mold, fuel oil, and in the case of Russell, coal tar contamination. Chris Smaczniak is Project Monitor and Site Inspector for the project, contributing to the environmental oversight performed by the LiRo team. Chris has spent most of his LiRo career in the metropolitan NY area, but recently relocated to his native Western New York where he first started in the environmental field.
How did you end up in your line of work?
I originally went to school for construction management as I was very interested in that field. I started working in the environmental field due to the opportunities it presented and knowing there will always be a need for environmental improvements and management. Combining these two fields has created a very interesting and positive career path.
Does it feel good to know that your job directly works towards protecting people's health?
My job is to ensure that whatever environmental hazard lies within our current work area will stay within that area so the general public does not get exposed to it. Knowing that we protect the general public is definitely a good feeling.
How does the demolition and remediation of the RGE Beebee & Russell sites differ from your previous project experience?
I have been in the asbestos and remediation industry for 10 years and while I was in New York City, I was brought into construction management as well. The RGE Beebee & Russell sites really don't differ for me but rather tie in all factors including managing records of events as well as visually inspecting and sampling current environmental conditions.
What is the best piece of advice you received from someone within the industry?
Always try to look ahead as to what can happen on a project. Whether it being safety or progress, you cannot predict the future but on a jobsite, using logic and referring to past experience at other sites, you can determine what can be the safest and most reasonable outcome.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
One of the biggest influences was moving to New York City and I have to give the most recognition for that to my wife. We both are originally from Buffalo and decided to move to benefit our careers. New York City is not a forgiving city and in order to make it, you have to work for it. When my wife got a job there, it was my ticket and my motivation to advance with LiRo in the New York City area which has brought me a whole new career path and clarified what I need to do to advance in it.
Chris Smaczniak has been with LiRo since 2008, and has previously worked on a variety of demolition, site assessment, and underground storage tank programs in both the New York City and Western New York areas. He received a degree in Environmental Studies from Ashford University, and is a NY State Licensed Asbestos Project Monitor and Air Sampling Technician.