Con Ed to pay $150M over East Harlem explosion

It’s the highest payout for a gas safety incident in state history
February 17, 2017 02:45PM

Aerial view of East Harlem apartment explosion, March 12, 2014 (Credit: Adnan Islam via Wikipedia)

Con Edison will pay $153.3 million to settle charges related to a 2014 gas explosion in East Harlem that killed eight people and injured 50 others.

The state’s Public Service Commission approved the settlement, the New York Post reported. It’s the highest payout for a gas safety incident in state history, according to New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 2016, the Public Service Commission found Con Ed had failed to make sure workers were properly trained to fuse gas pipes together, and had therefore violated safety regulations. It also failed to install valves that would have allowed workers to shut down the gas system during emergencies.

The commission will oversee a $25 million account, created with settlement funds, and will ask the public how it thinks the money should be used for ratepayers. Con Edison said it has already made changes to various technologies and increased training. The utility agreed not to make customers pay for more than $125.5 million spent on responding to gas leaks since the explosion.

Two buildings at 1644 Park Avenue and 1646 Park Avenue collapsed in the explosion.  The owner of a three-family home at 1645 Park Avenue, Peter Costello, this week filed a lawsuit against the owners of the two destroyed buildings for nearly $2 million, over damages and loss of rent. Costello is arguing the gas leak was caused by negligence from the owners.

In 2014, residents near the site of the explosion filed a suit against the city, alleging they were given the green light to return to homes covered in asbestos dust. [NYP]Miriam Hall