Con Edison Restores Gas to 8,200 Customers in Harlem

By Jeff Mays on August 22, 2011 7:21pm 

A couple of blocks of St. Nicholas Avenue were still closed off to traffic Mon., Aug. 15, 2011, after a water-main break three days prior.
A couple of blocks of St. Nicholas Avenue were still closed off to traffic Mon., Aug. 15, 2011, after a water-main break three days prior.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

HARLEM — Gas was restored to 8,214 Harlem customers left without utilities after Aug. 12 gas and water-main breaks, Con Edison said Monday.

But roughly 1,500 customers still did not have gas in their units because repairs must be made to pipes and other equipment, said Con Ed spokeswoman Sarah Banda.

Con Ed also needs to gain access to some apartments to perform testing. Before gas is restored, the utility company must perform integrity tests in every unit to make sure they are safe. Some units need repairs to be performed by landlords.

It remained unclear how long it would take before all affected customers will have gas restored in their units, Banda said.

The gas main broke after a water main at St. Nicholas Avenue and West 152nd Street burst, causing a giant sinkhole at the intersection.

The broken gas main was still in the process of being replaced, and Con Ed was also making repairs to other area mains. So far, 30,000 gallons of water have been pumped from the main.

Motorists and area residents have long complained about problems at the intersection, DNAinfo found. Over the last year, more than a dozen calls were placed to 311 about cave-ins, potholes and failed street repairs.

According to city records, the Department of Transportation asked the Department of Environmental Protection to examine the intersection at least twice.

DEP acknowledged being called to the location twice. An October 2010 examination of the water and sewer system did not reveal any breaks or leaks, said DEP spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla.

In April 2011, about the time residents said they placed a metal trash can in a hole at the intersection, DOT once again called DEP to the intersection, but "the street was already repaved" and "no water condition was found," Padilla said.

That same month, the DOT determined that the street would be put on the schedule "for either the next or future resurfacing seasons (2-3 years)," according to city records.

Some area businesses have also been affected by the lack of gas. According to the city's Department of Small Business Services, it has reached out to 79 of 84 businesses in the impacted area.

Approximately 28 of the most severely impacted businesses received emergency response services, said Kelly Dougherty, senior policy advisor with SBS.

"An SBS team went door to door to each of these businesses and asked if the gas outage affected their operations," Dougherty said. "If the business was impacted, the team made sure that companies were aware that they may submit a claim to the comptroller’s office and assisted them in filling out that claim form."

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