The Manhattan steam pipe explosion from this past summer was in the news again today. The explosions, just two blocks from my office, resulted in one death, many injuries, and more than a few frayed nerves. (The explosion was at 41st and Lexington, I’m at 40th and Park.)
The New York Times reported that a million dollar study done by Con Ed found that the explosion “was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall, leaks in underground water and sewer pipes and debris that clogged two critical devices designed to let water out of the steam main.”
Two people in a red tow truck at the center of the massive New York steam pipe explosion on July 18th have filed suit, according to newspaper reports. Both were badly burned as they jumped to safety from the truck through the steam. At least two other suits have been filed, one of which I discussed here.
The explosion near Grand Central station, right near my office, resulted in frozen streets and businesses in addition to one death and numerous injuries. The intersection at Lexington and 41st street is still closed, and barriers, trucks and temporary piping still fill the streets.
The news of the lawsuits, not exactly unexpected, came the same day that Con Ed officials appeared before the City Council and failed to explain how and why the explosion occurred.
That headline might not sound like news. Unless, of course, that deli was one block away from the massive steam pipe explosion last week in New York, and the business has been closed since.
Sitting at the corner of Park and 41st, the street and sidewalks in front of said deli were closed this morning, but open at lunchtime. The workers seemed happy to be back. And this patron was happy to spend a few bucks for a sandwich from them, which is about all they had in the usually bustling place.
I took the picture at the right about an hour ago, from just outside the deli, looking east down 41st street toward the intersection with Lexington where the explosion took place. While Con Ed trucks still fill both the shrinking frozen zone and the surrounding streets, with jackhammering and new piping being laid, bit by bit the area is becoming more accessible.
The first of what will surely be many lawsuits over the steam pipe explosion last week in mid-town Manhattan has been filed against the utility company, Con Edison. The plaintiff, whose sister was killed at the World Trade Center in the September 11th attack, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The explosion — just one block north and one block east of my office — certainly rattled more than a few as they fled the scene. In my own office suite, those still in the office heard the eruption and felt the building shake, as the alarms went off and evacuations took place down the stairwells. Out on the streets police were yelling at people to run away from the area, with more than a few pair of women’s shoes left by the wayside as folks sought refuge.
In addition to a number of personal injury suits I expect to be filed against Con Ed, there will no doubt be many commercial suits. The site of the explosion, which I walked past just an hour ago as I went for lunch, is still sealed off, and with it access to many businesses.
My office is closed today. Sitting just one block south and one avenue west of yesterday’s steam pipe explosion, my office has been placed in a frozen zone by the police. Telephone voice mail still works.
The frozen zone appears to be rather large, encompassing several square blocks of some of the world’s most expensive real estate in the Grand Central station area. Some asbestos has now been found in the debris.
When I exited Grand Central this morning in hopes of getting in to the building, I found the eastern and main southern entrances closed, and 42nd Street closed and in the process of being jack-hammered in parts by one of the many, many Con Ed crews jack-hammering in the area.
Taking a circuitous route south to my building at 40th and Park Avenue, I found the scenes on the right that I snapped with a cell phone camera. I was unable to determine when I would be able to get back in to the office. For some that might be a cause for celebration. But it isn’t if you’re the one paying the bills.
And yet…it could have been much, much worse.