July 19, 2007 - Asbestos In Dust From Steam Explosion
This morning, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York (Con Edison), a regulated utility that provides electric service in NYC and other surrounding areas, and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the results of its extensive air and debris testing from yesterday’s steam pipe explosion in Manhattan.
Con Ed confirmed at its Web site, www.coned.com, that there was no airborne asbestos. However, several of the numerous samples of muddy debris were found to contain asbestos. (Asbestos is used to insulate the underground steam pipes.)
Con Ed is urging those in the area around the time of the explosion to plastic-bag the apparel they were wearing, and bring it to a designated drop-off point for safe disposal. The company and its crews have developed a comprehensive plan to remove muddy debris from buildings, streets and vehicles.
(The NYC 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: http://home2.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ei/eiasbest.shtml.)
Con Ed is also 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.” The area affects around 14,000 customers. The company is resolving any problems, and is in constant communication with the New York City Office of Emergency Management. “Customer cooperation will help ensure uninterrupted service,” Con Ed wrote in a statement.
Con Ed owns and operates the world’s largest district steam system, and provides steam service in most of Manhattan. According to the company, it has supplied “the energy that powers New York” for more than 180 years.
During rush hour on Wednesday, an underground steam pipe exploded in Manhattan near Grand Central Terminal killing one person from an apparent heart attack and wounding dozens of others. Hundreds more ran for cover from flying rubble and a towering geyser of steam “taller than the Chrysler Building,” according to MSNBC. Steam and dirt boiled from the ground for hours. The steam cleared around 8 p.m. ET, exposing a crater several feet wide. A red tow truck lay at the bottom of the hole.
Con Edison workers speculate the explosion most likely occurred by the introduction of cold water into the pipe.