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City and Con Edison Officials to Testify on Gas Explosion During Hearing

By Gustavo Solis | December 3, 2015 4:22pm
 An explosion on Park Avenue near East 116th Street sent up plumes of smoke visible from surrounding buildings on March 12, 2014.
An explosion on Park Avenue near East 116th Street sent up plumes of smoke visible from surrounding buildings on March 12, 2014.
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

EAST HARLEM — A state lawmaker is holding a special hearing Friday to evaluate what the city and Con Edison have done to prevent another gas explosion like the one that killed eight people and demolished two buildings on Park Avenue in March 2014.

The hearing comes at the wake of a Public Service Commission report that blamed the gas leak at the East Harlem building on a faulty Con Edison pipe joint that was made worse by a sewer collapse the city failed to repair.

Both Con Edison and the city could face $1 billion in lawsuits for their role in the blast that killed eight people and injured dozens.

The hearing will be Friday at 10:30 a.m. on the 19th floor of 250 Broadway, between Park Place and Murray Street.

“Regardless of finger pointing, the findings of the commission and the NTSB report illustrate a number of critical failures on the part of Con Edison, and the City’s Department of Environmental Protection,” State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez said.

“This hearing will serve to determine how tragedies can be prevented, and we will be reviewing the NTSB and PSC recommendations for appropriate legislative and policy fixes.”

Both the city and utility company will be asked to show how they've followed the recommendations of the state and federal reports and what they are doing to prevent future explosions.

Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Devita is among the list of city officials scheduled to testify at the hearing, as will the deputy commissioners of the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Marc Huestis, the vice president of Gas Operations for Con Edison, will also testify.