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Blasting to Resume at Second Ave. Subway Explosion Site

By Ben Fractenberg | September 13, 2012 3:49pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — Work is set to resume Friday at the site of the Second Avenue subway where an explosion last month shattered windows and sent debris flying along the 2nd Avenue subway line, the MTA said.

An MTA spokesman said will adopt improved safety measures at 72nd Street and Second Avenue, including a new oversight group as well as additional safety measures, in the wake of the Aug. 21 blast that went awry.

“We have completed our review of the incident and have implemented a number of corrective actions.  From this moment forward, blasting operations will be subject to additional management scrutiny and enhanced safety procedures to ensure that the community and workers are kept safe,” said Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction, in a statement.  

The improved safety measures include outside monitoring by a safety consulting firm, an additional licensed blaster to verify each planned blast accords with plans. The MTA will also adopt a policy of using a double layer of blast mats instead of a single layer whenever planned explosions are done in blasting shafts.

The MTA's investigation found the blast caused so much damage because of a number of factors — including that contractor SSK Constructors Joint Venture, who were at the helm during the Aug. 21 blast, failed to follow approved blast plans.

Other problems were that SSK's workers drilled the hole where the blasts occurred at an angle rather than being vertical. Investigators also found that the decking system — street-level metal plates placed over the construction area — were not sufficient to contain the blast.

SSK Constructors Joint Venture will remain in charge of the project, according to the MTA. However, they have suspended the licensed blaster who was in charge at the time of the accident and have hired a new blaster.

Thacher Associates-Total Safety Consulting will make sure SSK complies with the new safety standards, according to the MTA.

An MTA rep said after the blast that they did not expect the investigation and new safety measures to delay completion of the subway line. it was slated for completion by 2016.