It has been determined that last month’s explosion of an underground steam pipe in the Flatiron section of Manhattan released the toxic substance asbestos into the air. The incident occurred on July 19 at 6:40 a.m., on Thursday in the area of Fifth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets.
The aftermath of the explosion resulted in a huge crater on Fifth Avenue that created chaos during the morning rush hour.
The steam pipe system in New York City is the biggest in the world and runs underground the city for 105 miles. The system supplies steam to over 2,000 buildings in New York City, providing residents and tenants with cooling in summer and heating in the winter.
The 86-year-old steam line burst due to increased underground pressure in the asbestos-lined casing. Inspectors have found asbestos traces in the explosion, which was so strong that it blasted up sections street and sidewalk. It also caused street flooding on the Avenue, as well as an immense shaft of steam and smoke around the iconic Flatiron Building.
In all, there were 49 buildings evacuated, of which 28 were located in the ”hot zone.” Five people who were in the area of the explosion were injured by debris. However, none required hospitalization.
It’s not believed that there is any lingering health hazard in the area of the explosion. Officials asked the public to drop off any clothing contaminated with asbestos at the Con Edison location at 22nd Street and Broadway.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to several cancers, including mesothelioma. If you were exposed in this incident or otherwise, e.g., while working in the construction industry, you might not be affected by the exposure for decades.
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