Safety board: Con Edison guilty

Site of gas explosion in East Harlem.WW photo: Johnnie Stevens

Site of gas explosion in East Harlem.
WW photo: Johnnie Stevens

After more than a year of investigations, the National Transportation Safety Board finally found that a faulty Con Edison gas connection caused an East Harlem explosion in March 2014. But the finding was no surprise to activists who have been advocating for stricter measures to avert natural gas disasters originating from Con Edison’s pipelines.

The NTSB also concluded that the city agency responsible for protecting our environment actually contributed to this tragic environmental disaster. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection had failed to repair a gaping hole in a sewer main in front of one of the buildings destroyed by the explosion.

An improper connection between two plastic Con Edison gas pipes installed in 2011 led to the gas leak and explosion that killed eight people, leveled two houses and injured dozens in adjacent buildings. The connection was installed by an uncertified worker.

Now is the time for the community and those residents who have suffered because two organizations failed to do their job properly to speak out in their own neighborhood where the disaster took place.

New Yorkers in Solidarity with the Survivors and Community of East Harlem and El Barrio, a coalition of tenants, activists and environmental organizations, has urged the NTSB to call a special hearing so community residents and small businesses in the area can determine what must be done to prevent such disasters from recurring, with those responsible for causing them present and accountable. The group has delivered 620 signed petitions to the NTSB supporting the call for a public hearing.