A New York City steam pipe explosion sent asbestos spewing into the environment and had city administrators working overtime to minimize the risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. The rupture occurred on lower Fifth Avenue last Thursday, sending smoke, debris and shock waves through the neighborhood.
Immediately after the disaster occurred, city officials concerned about the risk of mesothelioma tested the environment in the aftermath and found that asbestos was indeed present in the steam lines involved. Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that the city is aware of and concerned about the long-term impact of exposure and is taking immediate action to reduce the risk. When the explosion take place, the city shut down busy Fifth Avenue between `9th and 22nd streets and evacuated more than four dozen buildings. Con Edison, the company responsible for the pipe system will be providing displaced residents with hotel accommodations through a claims process that is estimated to involve approximately 500 people, and people whose clothes were contaminated with debris have been told to bag up all of the involved belongings and turn them in to the company for decontamination.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to a myriad of illnesses, with the most serious of these being malignant mesothelioma. The city is particularly sensitive to these risks after first responders and people in the area following 9-11 were sickened by asbestos contamination caused by the collapse of the World Trade Towers. This explosion was apparently caused by a 20-inch pipe that burst first thing in the morning. Though there were no serious injuries, five people did incur minor injuries. The cause of the explosion is still being explored. The city is also investigating whether asbestos might have entered nearby buildings through their air conditioning systems, and what steps need to be taken if it turns out that contamination is widespread.
“We’re going to work from an abundance of caution,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Now that we know there’s asbestos present, we’re not going to cut any corners. We’re going to be very thorough.”
The actions taken by the city of New York stand in stark contrast to those of asbestos companies faced with knowledge of asbestos exposure in the past. If you or someone you love has been sickened by asbestos and you need information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.