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Latest Con Ed Fire Adds to Locals' Growing Concerns About 89 John St. Plant

By Janet Upadhye | June 10, 2013 12:59pm
 A small fire broke out at 89 Water Street in DUMBO at the Con Edison plant on Friday May 31, 2013.
A small fire broke out at 89 Water Street in DUMBO at the Con Edison plant on Friday May 31, 2013.
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DUMBOParents/Katharina Goetz

DUMBO — A recent circuit breaker fire at the Con Edison Farragut Substation at 89 Jon St. in DUMBO is the third to take place at the plant in just a little over two years and has some locals scared for the safety of their neighborhood.

"There are hundreds of families that live very close by," said local mother Katharina Goetz. "The danger to those families worries me the most.'

The New York Fire Department got a call about the fire on Friday, May 31 at 8:23 p.m. They sent six trucks to the scene and within an hour the fire was extinguished. There were no injuries, according to the FDNY.

A representative from Con Edison said that the fire was contained inside of the substation and that the energy company "continues to study equipment advances to reduce equipment disruptions."

But to Goetz, who lives nearby at 37 Bridge St., the May fire was a scary reminder of the unpredictability of the plant.

"There was a big bang and many of the residents of my building filed into the hallway," she said. "From my apartment we could see what looked like fireworks that quickly died down to a small fire."

Goetz was also reminded of last year's fire. On April 29, 2012, she was walking her 9-month-old son when she heard a loud noise and saw a huge cloud of black smoke overhead.

"Everyone ran," she said. "It was very scary."

Later the neighborhood lost electricity and locals worried about contaminants in the air.

"There was a lot of smoke damage to nearby homes," said Brook Stanton of the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association. "Neighbors were concerned about plant damage and oil found on their properties."

Stanton further noted that most residents were satisfied by the Con Edison response in a meeting after the 2012 fire.

Still, Goetz is concerned about the proximity of the plant to so many families.

But there is no chance that the 89 John St. electric substation will be moved, according to Con Edison spokeswoman Joy Faber.

"It is vital to the energy needs of several thousand people in Brooklyn, as well as portions of Manhattan," she said.

Con Edison did however ask state utility regulators to approve a plan to sell 3.4 acres of its property between John Street and the East River in DUMBO to the Brooklyn Bridge Park earlier this year, according to The New York Times.