Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

NY officials: No major public health threat from steam blast

NY officials: No major public health threat from steam blast

There are more than 105 miles of underground pipes in the New York City steam system, and Con Ed provides 55 percent of that steam to almost 2,000 residential and commercial buildings.

Authorities have not determined what caused the blast in the 86-year-old main.

"Environmental testing is being conducted to determine whether asbestos or other contaminants are present, but as a precaution anyone in the vicinity of the rupture who was covered in material is advised to bag their clothing and shower", Con Edison said in a statement on Twitter at about 9 a.m. About 500 people were displaced and almost 250 residential units affected, the press office said. "There's going to be a thorough assessment to make sure all the buildings are clean and safe", de Blasio said. "We're not gonna cut any corners, we're gonna be very thorough", the Mayor said.

New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro says five people have minor injuries and 28 buildings have been evacuated.

The eruption, though, near the Fifth Avenue and 21st Street intersection, sent the toxic fibers airborne, which endangered anyone nearby.

Daniel Lizio-Katzen, 42, was riding his bike home to the West Village when he saw the plume from the high-pressure steam explosion.

"I knew either it was a World Trade Center kind of thing or a plane crash", said Doreen Black, who was in bed in her apartment at 22nd Street and Broadway when the explosion occurred.

WABCA steam pipe exploded at Fifth Avenue and East 21st Street in the Flatiron district of New York
WABCA steam pipe exploded at Fifth Avenue and East 21st Street in the Flatiron district of New York

The incident raised fears of asbestos contamination and the need for repairs to underground equipment could result in the shut-down of streets in the area for days.

In 2007, a steam pipe burst in Midtown Manhattan, killing one and leading to millions of dollars in lawsuits, while a 1989 steam pipe explosion killed three people.

Steam billows on New York's Fifth Avenue, Thursday, July 19, 2018.

"The billows were about six stories high". Crews were on the scene Friday morning, continuing fix work at the giant crater on Fifth Avenue that opened up as a result of the blast. Several buildings in the immediate area have been evacuated as a precaution.

MTA bus service in and around the area is also being affected.

Multiples streets were closed in the area including a stretch of Fifth Avenue.

More than 100 miles of steam piping underneath New York City, one of the largest steam systems in the world, deliver heating and cooling to almost 2,000 buildings.

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