Burst Pipe Spreads Asbestos Fears in NYC
Just as the morning rush hour was getting underway, a nearly century-old pipe in NYC’s bustling Flatiron District exploded, sending steam through the streets and – worse yet – spreading fibers from old asbestos pipe insulation throughout the area.
The blast happened where busy Fifth Avenue crosses 21st Street, a neighborhood full of shops, restaurants, and office buildings. More than two dozen buildings in what police are calling the “hot zone” had to be evacuated for fear of asbestos contamination.
Newspapers report that the buildings are likely to remain closed for the next several days as environmental tests are conducted and assessed.
For now, however, environmental officials say they are working under the assumption that those buildings will test positive for asbestos contamination and prefer to err on the side of caution.
“Anyone in the immediate vicinity at the time of the blast should bag their clothes and shower. If you’re concerned you may have been exposed, there are two decontamination sites on 19th and 22nd streets, both on Fifth Avenue,” FDNY reports.
“The FDNY decontaminated about 100 first responders a few blocks from the scene, and people were seen walking with masks over their faces on Sixth Avenue, apparently concerned about what might be in the air,” reported NBC-4.
If asbestos is confirmed, the entire area would have to be decontaminated, which would likely take several days, authorities told reporters.
It was a scary scene for New Yorkers, who seem to be resilient despite all that happens in the city. Nonetheless, the fact that the steam continued for about 2 hours had many locals worried.
In addition, debris covered the streets and many of the cars along those busy avenues became encased in mud or were damaged from catapulting asphalt that spurted from the geyser. Thankfully, only five injuries were reported.
Hopefully, if clean-up is achieved in a timely manner, there will be no asbestos-related issues for those who were in the vicinity at 6:30 am, which is when the explosion occurred.
The only thing those who were in the area can do is make sure they are free of asbestos fibers and be sure they stay away from the streets affected by the blast.