Statement from Con Edison

re: NTSB Findings on East Harlem Explosion -- All of us at Con Edison are determined to learn from
this tragic event, and remain  committed to operating a safe and
reliable natural gas distribution system. The  safety of all New Yorkers
and our workers remains our top priority. We once  again extend our
thoughts and prayers to all of the people affected by this  event,
especially to those who lost loved ones.

We want to thank the NTSB and all parties involved in the investigation for conducting such a thorough review and examination of the street infrastructure and the emergency response. We commend our workers who responded to the scene, the New York City Fire and Police Departments, and all emergency responders who played a role in assisting victims and making the area safe as quickly as possible. We also wish to thank Mayor de Blasio and the administrators of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, and all the elected officials, community leaders and residents who tookpart in the collective effort to help the neighborhood recover.

To be clear, not all of the participants involved in this investigation reached the same conclusion concerning the sequence of infrastructure failures that led to the explosion. We all agree, however, on the importance of doing everything in our control to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

We want to emphasize the importance of calling 911 or your local gas utility right away at the first detection of a gas odor.

The Findings

The evidence uncovered during the NTSB investigation leads us to conclude that a pre-existing sewer breach beneath the roadway in front of the buildings caused years of street depressions and an undermining of the soil supporting gas and water mains. This undermining resulted in a crack to a water main, as well as a crack in a plastic gas fitting installed in 2011, leading to the explosion. Our investigators believe the separation of a fused section of the plastic gas piping was caused during excavation activities after the explosion. Con Edison’s report and accompanying animation submitted to the NTSB can be found at www.coned.com/east-harlem-response.

We agree with many of the NTSB’s recommendations, and many new gas safety and quality control measures are already underway. We will work closely with regulators, policy makers and industry experts to further strengthen our procedures and standards.

What We’re Doing

We have embarked on new efforts with the City of New York to better coordinate underground infrastructure projects that will help us further accelerate our gas main replacement program, in tandem with the city’s water main replacement work. This includes an effort to coordinate our response to, and monitoring of, street depressions.

We have strengthened our own internal procedures to make sure any lapses in worker re-qualification processes were updated and brought into compliance. We are also working with the New York State Public Service Commission in various proceedings initiated by the Commission to develop new inspection protocols to identify and remediate potential deficiencies in both new and existing gas pipe plastic fusions; to increase inspections of customer-owned gas service pipes within buildings; and to obtain the resources necessary to significantly expand our gas pipe replacement program.

Rather than waiting for the findings while the NTSB investigation was ongoing, Con Edison implemented many new gas safety initiatives that will help better protect lives and property.

After the explosion, Con Edison significantly increased the frequency of gas leak patrols throughout our natural gas service areas of Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and parts of Queens. We now survey our 4,300 miles of gas mains an average of once per month, as opposed to once per year as required by state and federal codes.

To emphasize the importance of educating the public to report gas odors immediately, Con Edison launched an extensive public education campaign called “Smell Gas. Act Fast.”

We also launched a public online map www.coned.com/gasmap showing current street gas leaks that have been made safe, and are under repair or being monitored.

We have been working closely with the FDNY and Westchester fire officials to expand and improve emergency response to gas odor reports. We have also contributed $100,000 to the NYC Fire Foundation for increased educational materials and to provide firefighters with additional gas detectors.We have embarked on new efforts with the City of New York to better coordinate underground infrastructure projects that will help us further accelerate our gas main replacement program, in tandem with the city’s water main replacement work. This includes an effort to coordinate our response to, and monitoring of, street depressions.

We have strengthened our own internal procedures to make sure any lapses in worker re-qualification processes were updated and brought into compliance. We are also working with the New York State Public Service Commission in various proceedings initiated by the Commission to develop new inspection protocols to identify and remediate potential deficiencies in both new and existing gas pipe plastic fusions; to increase inspections of customer-owned gas service pipes within buildings; and to obtain the resources necessary to significantly expand our gas pipe replacement program.

Rather than waiting for the findings while the NTSB investigation was ongoing, Con Edison implemented many new gas safety initiatives that will help better protect lives and property.

After the explosion, Con Edison significantly increased the frequency of gas leak patrols throughout our natural gas service areas of Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and parts of Queens. We now survey our 4,300 miles of gas mains an average of once per month, as opposed to once per year as required by state and federal codes.

To emphasize the importance of educating the public to report gas odors immediately, Con Edison launched an extensive public education campaign called “Smell Gas. Act Fast.”

We also launched a public online map www.coned.com/gasmap showing current street gas leaks that have been made safe, and are under repair or being monitored.

We have been working closely with the FDNY and Westchester fire officials to expand and improve emergency response to gas odor reports. We have also contributed $100,000 to the NYC Fire Foundation for increased educational materials and to provide firefighters with additional gas detectors.

Commercial & Residential Methane Detectors

Con Edison engineers have been closely studying methane detectors for home and business use. We believe effective methane detectors can serve as early-warning devices to alert residents about gas leaks before they approach a dangerous level.

Over the past five years, Con Edison has worked with outside experts to advance technology to detect methane in the home. We will work with the gas industry to continue to advance the technology, and work towards a long term goal of widespread installation of methane detectors in residential and commercial buildings.

Meantime, anyone may look into purchasing these devices. They are available in many types and models at most retail and hardware stores. Select one that is right for your needs and install the device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

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