Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Assembly-member Mark Weprin Demands Investigation Into 260th Street Gas Explosion

Assemblymember Mark S. Weprin (D-Little Neck) wrote to Commissioner Garry A. Brown, New York State Public Service Commission, and to Chairman Kevin Burke, Consolidated Edison, to express serious concern regarding the powerful natural gas explosion that took the life of a young mother in Floral Park, Queens on Friday, April 24. In a joint letter with Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Assemblymember Weprin pointed out Con Edison’s apparent lack of emergency planning and called for a full investigation, public hearings, and recommendations for improvement, all of which should be widely available to the public.

Over the weekend, several news outlets reported that a Con Edison spokesperson said that there was no protocol in place for this type of incident. “This very statement indicates that there is a serious gap in the emergency planning and implementation process,” said Assemblymember Weprin. “Both Con Edison and regulatory officials must address the situation.”

Mr. Weprin called for the review of, and a report on, the protocols that should be followed in the event of a suspected natural gas leak. He said that Con Edison should fully disclose existing policies, practices, training with regard to gas leaks; how and why procedures were or were not followed in this instance; and what recommendations are necessary to improve emergency responses. “When three children lose their mother, it is truly a tragedy,” said Mr. Weprin. “We must ensure that every appropriate precaution is taken so that no other family has to endure the loss of a loved one.”

Assemblymember Weprin noted that Con Edison is responsible for 7,200 miles of mains and service pipes for gas delivery to over one million ratepayers. “We must ensure that the company be held directly responsible for the safety of its xustomers,” he said.