New York mayor says UN unsafe for visitors
( Irna ) - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has threatened to halt visits to UN headquarters by New York City school children until a number of safety hazards are addressed.
The UN complex, built in the early 1950s, lacks basic fire detectors and sprinklers on many floors. When the main buildings were, for the first time in their 55-year history, inspected by local fire department officials in January, they racked up 866 violations.
The New York Fire Department gave the world body until January to address some of the violations and March to fix the remainder. It estimates that fewer than 20 percent of those violations have been addressed so far, according to the mayor's office.
"As I'm sure you appreciate, it is the city's obligation to take all necessary steps to protect the safety of all who work in and visit the city," Bloomberg wrote in an October 30 letter to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon.
"If the United Nations does not adhere to these deadlines, the city will be forced to direct the cessation of all public school visits to the United Nations. If warranted, the city will take additional action, such as notifying the public of outstanding safety hazards and the city's efforts to direct and assist the United Nations to bring its facilities into compliance."
Because the 17-acre UN compound is technically international territory, it is exempt from state and federal regulations on worker and environmental safety, and even with respect to smoking.
The compound is about to undergo a comprehensive $2 billion overhaul, which will lay waste to any improvements by the end of next year.
Nevertheless, UN officials said last week that they are committed to fixing all the violations and meeting the targets laid out in consultations with city safety officials over the past year.