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NYC building collapse subject of federal probe
Chicago Trib ^ | 3-13-14 | Tribune wire reports

Posted on 03/13/2014 5:18:36 PM PDT by smokingfrog

Federal safety authorities launched an investigation on Thursday into a gas explosion that caused the collapse a day earlier of two New York City apartment buildings, killing seven people and injuring dozens of others.

The still-smoldering rubble prevented investigators from getting close enough to examine the main pipe that supplies natural gas to the Upper East Side neighborhood, said Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, which reviews accidents involving natural gas.

When firefighters say the area is safe, he said, investigators will conduct a pressure test on the pipe to find the location of the leak that may have caused the blast.

"We are operating under the assumption at this point that it is a natural gas leak that led to an explosion," Sumwalt said.

The explosion at about 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday shook the East Harlem neighborhood shortly after a resident complained to the Con Edison utility about a gas odor.

Sumwalt said the scene was "in one word, devastating."

(Excerpt) Read more at chicagotribune.com ...


TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; US: New York
KEYWORDS: buildingexplosion; explosion; gasleak; nyc
Consolidated Edison Inc spokesman Bob McGee said the last time the utility had received a complaint about a gas odor in the neighborhood was in May.

At that time, Con Ed shut off the gas and the building hired its own contractor to fix the leak. On July 3, Con Ed crews returned to the building to certify that repairs were done correctly, McGee said.

On February 10 and February 28, there were "high speed" checks made of the gas pipes, he said.

1 posted on 03/13/2014 5:18:37 PM PDT by smokingfrog
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To: smokingfrog

There were earlier reports that residents had complained during the past week and the day before. Phone records should be examined to either confirm or deny that complaints were filed.

It may be that the Gas company was negligent.


2 posted on 03/13/2014 5:21:11 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: smokingfrog
NYC has something like ten times more restaurant inspectors than building inspectors because the restaurant fines are much more lucrative.

Also - I saw an NTSB guy on the news on the scene there yesterday, what jurisdiction could they have for something like this?

3 posted on 03/13/2014 5:41:31 PM PDT by capydick (''Life's tough.......it's even tougher if you're stupid.'')
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To: capydick

Debris from the explosion flew up onto the railroad/subway tracks right in front of the building.


4 posted on 03/13/2014 5:44:06 PM PDT by stormer
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To: capydick

NTSB deals with pipelines.


5 posted on 03/13/2014 6:32:01 PM PDT by PghBaldy (12/14 - 930am -rampage begins... 12/15 - 1030am - Obama's advance team scouts photo-op locations.)
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To: DannyTN

I saw a member of the church interviewed who had said she stopped to tell a deli owner about the gas she smelled the night before and he had said he’d have it checked.

Perhaps she should have just called 911 or the gas company directly.


6 posted on 03/13/2014 6:32:13 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: PghBaldy

Sounds like mission creep if they’re expanding their ‘pipeline’ responsibility to include local gas lines:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/air-crash-agency-investigates-harlem-pipe-explosion-article-1.1719970


7 posted on 03/13/2014 6:34:10 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: 9YearLurker
Gas explosions happen.There is usually no prolonged media investigations about them.

I don't like “gas” power, myself.I grew up with it. If the pilot light goes out...which it often did, I knew what to do. But then again, I also knew better than to smoke at a gas station, or defecate in a river.

I live in Florida, so I don't have to deal with it as much.

I wonder why the people in that neighborhood wouldn't have called the gas company emergency line immediately and repeatedly, upon scenting the odor of gas in the area?

Did they?

Or were they just that stupid... not to know that if you ever smell the gas, there is a potentially lethal leak?

It's one or the other.
They either called or they did not.
Records exist.

8 posted on 03/13/2014 7:00:15 PM PDT by sarasmom (Extortion 17. A large number of Navy SEALs died on that mission. Ask why.)
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To: PghBaldy; stormer

Thanks - that explains it!


9 posted on 03/13/2014 7:00:28 PM PDT by capydick (''Life's tough.......it's even tougher if you're stupid.'')
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To: DannyTN
It may be that the Gas company was negligent.M

That is still no reason not to send in several thousand DHS employees to grope all of the residents before pronouncing the area safe.

10 posted on 03/13/2014 7:55:37 PM PDT by FredZarguna (Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!)
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To: sarasmom

What was originally reported was that the gas company had been called and just recently done work on the line, then had been called again.

Not sure who’s right and what’s accurate here at this point.


11 posted on 03/13/2014 9:52:29 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: FredZarguna
"That is still no reason not to send in several thousand DHS employees to grope all of the residents before pronouncing the area safe."

Never "waist" a crisis.

12 posted on 03/14/2014 10:57:26 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: 9YearLurker

No mission creep. The NTSB has had jurisdicition over pipeline safety. There use to be a separate division in the NTSB know as the Office of Pipeline Safety or OPS. Many years ago as part of my engineering duties, I did compliance consulting.


13 posted on 03/14/2014 11:06:04 AM PDT by PA Engineer (Liberate America from the Occupation Media.)
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To: PA Engineer

But are you talking about pipelines like Keystone—or every single gas line into any home across the country?


14 posted on 03/14/2014 11:16:39 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: 9YearLurker
every single gas line into any home across the country?

All transmission, distribution and service lines fall under the NTSB.

PHMSA Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

The specific regulations for natural gas pipeline safety are HERE under SUBCHAPTER D—PIPELINE SAFETY, Part 192.
15 posted on 03/14/2014 12:51:23 PM PDT by PA Engineer (Liberate America from the Occupation Media.)
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To: PA Engineer

Huh, I had no idea.

I guess we should never underestimate the reach of the federal government.


16 posted on 03/14/2014 1:04:04 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: 9YearLurker
The regulations have developed over the years and generally follow best practices. The problem is the uneven enforcement.

This particular incident caught my eye when ConEd mentioned they had old cast iron mains. In my proffessional opinion all cast iron mains should be replaced. Cast iron may not be as much of an issue with water, but it is a dangerous relic from the times of manufactured gas.

All cast iron sooner or later will experience a corrosion process that results in graphitization. Graphite is left over after the iron has corroded away. That is why old cast iron pipes look new when excavated, but are very brittle.

New York had a very cold winter with a deeper than usual ground freeze. Graphite retains a great deal of ground water and will freeze along with the ground compounding the problem, if not contributing to failures.

Finally, ground heaving during the freezing process will fracture the line.
17 posted on 03/14/2014 1:26:29 PM PDT by PA Engineer (Liberate America from the Occupation Media.)
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To: PA Engineer

I think NYC has extensive vulnerability with old cast iron pipes.


18 posted on 03/14/2014 1:33:28 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: PA Engineer
What is ConEd specifically doing regarding preventative maintenance to replace those old lines in NYC?

I don't live in NY, but there are some gas lines in Florida.

Is there a way for the general public to review records?

19 posted on 03/15/2014 7:42:47 PM PDT by sarasmom (Extortion 17. A large number of Navy SEALs died on that mission. Ask why.)
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To: sarasmom
Here is a good resource from the DOT site: Cast and Wrought Iron Pipeline Inventory

Cast and wrought iron pipe were a legacy of manufactured gas, specifically in the northeast.

The table may take a bit to load and Florida is on there towards the bottom.
20 posted on 03/15/2014 8:10:07 PM PDT by PA Engineer (Liberate America from the Occupation Media.)
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To: smokingfrog

People needed to call about the gas odor, the utility or 911. Maybe it’s an “urban” thing...worked a bad cracked main recently and people would walk by saying they were smelling it for a couple days already and how bad it smelled. They all said “Someone finally called you...”


21 posted on 03/15/2014 8:25:41 PM PDT by jughandle
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To: PA Engineer
Thank you so much!

It's a lot of information to take in, but it was fairly easy to discern that Florida doesn't have many gas mains, of any kind, so it is just one less thing to worry about for myself.

Given our geology, I am thankfull that previous Floridians did not overly invest in that particular type of power supply.

Again, thank you very much for responding with valuable information on a topic I know very little about!

22 posted on 03/15/2014 9:18:04 PM PDT by sarasmom (Extortion 17. A large number of Navy SEALs died on that mission. Ask why.)
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To: sarasmom

One more thing I forgot to mention. The majority of leaks are usually what they call third party. That is someone who didn’t call before digging. I’m am glad the link was helpful.


23 posted on 03/15/2014 9:22:54 PM PDT by PA Engineer (Liberate America from the Occupation Media.)
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