Gas explosion in Harlem

A huge methane explosion in New York City reminds people of 9/11. And of Spectra’s Durham Woods explosion in Edison, NJ.

Michael J. Feeney, Greg B. Smith, Pete Donohue, Jennifer H. Cunningham, Stephen Rex Brown and Corky Siemaszko for the New York Daily News, today, Underground gas explosion in East Harlem kills 3, injures dozens — up to 10 people feared missing: sources

“It’s a tragedy of the worst kind,’ Mayor de Blasio says Wednesday near Park Ave. and E. 116th St. Up to 10 people were still missing from the two buildings that contained 15 apartments, Absolute Piano and Spanish Christian Church, an NYPD source said. One of the victims was identified by sources as Griselde Camacho, 44, who lived at 1644 Park Ave.”

Nobody knows for sure the cause, but it appears to be gas:

“There was no warning in advance,” said Mayor de Blasio, who added that the cause of the blast that also flattened 1646 Park Ave. appears to be a gas leak.

Ah, maybe there will be a real investigation of this one:

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are also on the scene because nearby train tracks were affected the blast.

Unfortunate memories were awakened:

In Washington, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-Harlem), said he called the calamity “our community’s 9/11.”

“What 9/11 was to the world, this is to me,” he said. “It’s my Congressional district.”

And another comparison comes to mind. Spectra’s Durham Woods apartment fire, Edison, NJ, 1994. Definitely gas, that one, because NTSB investigate:

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the pipeline rupture was mechanical damage to the exterior surface of the pipe that reduced the pipe wall thickness and likely created a crack in the gouge that grew, most likely through metal fatigue, to critical size. Petitioner is not disputing the probable cause of the accident.

Spectra damaged their own pipeline, found the damage on inspection, claimed it wasn’t significant, and years later the pipeline blew up at that location, causing more than $25 million in property damage, 100 people to be burnt or “felled by smoke”, 2,000 people to be evacuated, 300 people to be made homeless, and one woman to be scared to death.

Residents of those Harlem apartment buildings were even less lucky with gas this time.

Although that 9/11 comparison also brings to mind: if a foreign gang insisted on taking local land to put in a hazardous device of no local benefit, we’d have called out the Marines by now.


4 thoughts on “Gas explosion in Harlem

  1. The Harlem explosion resulted in two demolished buildings (one was a church, I heard this morning), eight dead and a “couple of dozen injured.” And that was an 8-inch pipeline, if the report I heard was correct. Here in Gilchrist County, we’re dealing with pipelines more than four times that size (36-inch).

    I had a discussion two days ago with the patriarch of a family farm between Valdosta and Gilchrist Co. His name was given to me through horsey contacts. The family has filed suit over eminent domain. The man was elderly and laconic (lol). His family owns slightly more than 400 acres. Herewith are my notes (I’ll call him “Mr. M.”):

    Did you sign any oral agreement with Sabal Trail to give permission to survey your property?

    Mr. M: Nope never signed. Just gave oral permission.

    How many acres do you have?

    Mr. M: 407.

    Your website states that there’s an Indian burial site on your property. Did that provide you any protection?

    Mr. M: Oh that (burial site) is on the other side of the pipeline.

    Did Sabal Trail ever come on your property without your family’s permission?

    Mr. M: Oh, they’ll do that anyway–nuthin’ we can do to stop ’em.

    Was your county commission helpful?

    Mr. M: Never talked to ’em.

    Did you file any sort of complaint with FERC?

    Mr. M: Nope.

    Then, as our conversation ended, Mr. M added almost as an afterthought: “Oh, believe me, if they’re comin’ across your property, you’ll know it. That’s when all the attorneys start calling you.”

    Speaking as one who has turned paranoid, I contemplated that. How would the attorneys know –before a landowner –that a definitive pipeline route has been selected? Are the attorneys being alerted and sucking from both ends of the sweet straw? (with kindest apologies to our friend, Beth Gordon! :))

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