More on the Steam Explosion

More on the steam explosion that shook Grand Central Station and the surrounding area yesterday afternoon.
The one reported fatality was apparently from a heart attack. There are still several seriously injured people who are currently being treated in area hospitals as well as injured firemen and policemen.

Con Edison issued two press releases about the situation.

The first confirms the presence of asbestos in the pipes and the debris.

Following yesterday’s steam-main rupture at Lexington Avenue and 41st Street, Con Edison and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted extensive air monitoring in the area and tested numerous samples of muddy debris for the presence of asbestos. Air monitoring confirmed no airborne asbestos, however, several of the numerous samples of muddy debris taken from the area were found to contain asbestos.

Anyone who was in that area around 6 p.m. who has dust or debris on clothing or belongings should put them in a plastic bag and bring it to the Con Edison customer service van parked at the corner of Madison Avenue and 42nd Street. The van will be at that location for the next several days from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Con Edison will arrange for the safe disposal of these items. Customer care personnel will be available to help people fill out a reimbursement request.

The New York City Department of Health (DOH) has a fact sheet that provides additional information about asbestos. Visit the DOH Web site for more information by clicking on the following link:

Approximately 400 specially trained Con Edison employees and certified contractors, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), worked through the night: performing tests on muddy debris and monitoring the air. Together with the DEP, the company has developed a comprehensive plan to remove muddy debris from buildings, streets and vehicles.

Crews also cleaned muddy debris from Third Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. The company is working to restore service to electric feeder cables and is running temporary cables. In addition, crews excavated and inspected the gas system for possible damage. Fire trucks that responded to the event were decontaminated.

Also, while no power outages have occurred due to the steam explosion, several feeder lines and transformer structures were apparently affected by the explosion, thereby compromising transmission in that area. To that end, Con Edison released another statement urging area residents to conserve energy until repairs can be made to the electrical system. It’s not going to be a very hot week so please take this to heart if you live in the neighborhood.

Con Edison is urging all customers in the East Midtown area of Manhattan to discontinue their use of non-essential electrical appliances and equipment until problems on electrical cables can be resolved following yesterday’s steam-main rupture. There are no electric service outages in this area and customer cooperation will help ensure uninterrupted service.

The affected area includes approximately 14,000 customers, and is bounded by East 39 to 57 Streets, the F.D.R. Drive to Park Avenue.

Company crews are working to repair the problem. Con Edison has asked managers of large commercial buildings to reduce their electricity use and is asking residential customers in this area not to use appliances such as washers, dryers, air conditioners and other energy-intensive equipment during peak hours of 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and to turn off lights and televisions when not in use until the cable problems are resolved.

The equipment problems in East Midtown have no effect on the rest of the Con Edison system. The company will provide updates as the situation warrants and is in constant communication with the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

As of my morning commute, announcements were being made in subway stations that service is still suspended around the Grand Central Station. Commuters normally taking the 4,5,6 or other trains passing trough Grand Central should attempt to take the A,C,E to Times Square or the B,D to Bryant Park.

1 Comment so far

  1. Mike Sonnentag (unregistered) on July 20th, 2007 @ 4:43 pm


    Great post, tragic that NY was the victim again. Everyone is saying the age of the pipes is to blame, but not necessarily the case. America indeed has old, and sometimes deteriorating infrastructure, but it can be treated to last as long as the Roman ruins.

    Check out some of our thoughts on We have an expert in infrastructure and corroding pipes/structures who has seen this stuff all over the world.


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