NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Con Edison crews discovered an alarming natural gas concentration near the scene of the deadly East Harlem building explosion this week, a National Transportation Safety Board member said Friday.
Board member Robert Sumwalt also revealed that the gas main buried under Park Avenue near the scene at 116th Street dated back 127 years to 1887.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, investigators and Con Edison crews were still looking Friday night for the apparent leak.
Sumwalt said a review of records indicated – as earlier reports did — that Con Ed received a call about a gas smell at 9:13 a.m. Wednesday and an emergency responder was dispatched two minutes later. The responder arrived at 9:40 a.m., by which time the explosion had already destroyed the two five-story buildings on Park Avenue off 116th Street.
Later on Wednesday, Con Edison took a “bar test,” in which the drilled holes 18 to 24 inches into the ground and sent a bar down into each to probe for natural gas, Sumwalt said.
“In at least five holes, they found the presence of natural gas in the ground, and the gas concentration was up to 20 percent in at least five locations. It ranged from about 5 percent 20 percent,” Sumwalt said. “After that, Con Ed then excavated three locations in the vicinity of the explosion to isolate and shut off the gas flow.”