Brief recap of the ConEd-VHNA meeting

Here is a brief recap of the ConEd meeting from the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association. There will be a more detailed recap but wanted to get this initial information out first:

Dear Neighbors:
As there is so much to disseminate from last night’s meeting it will be more than a few days before our minutes will be prepared. I can at least give you a brief description of last night and my thanks to VHNA Secretary Brook Stanton for typing something up so quickly.

“In response to the April 29 fire and explosion at Con Edison’s Farrugut sub-station, a special Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association meeting, open to the public, was held last night at the Phoenix House on Jay Street in DUMBO. At the meeting representatives from Con Edison gave a presentation explaining the causes of the fire and their response to it, while fielding questions from residents who remain concerned about safety, health, and property damage. The panel answering questions included representatives from Con Edison, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Hazmat Division, the Office of Emergency Management, the FDNY, and an occupational health expert from Columbia University’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety. In the audience were representatives of Community Boards Two and Three, City Council Member Steve Levin, Officers of the DUMBO and Vinegar Hill neighborhood associations, the DUMBO BID and approximately twenty-five concerned residents of the neighborhoods affected by the fire and explosion”.

Separately, a resident sent me the following notes:

  • ConEd believes this explosion was cause by a bushing failure (the porcelin insulators on top of the unit)
  • There was a pressure relieve tank which held some oil above the fire and as it drained it fed the fire which is why it took so long to go out.
  • They believe the sprinklers worked as they were supposed to and kept the transformer cool, the sprinkler system is not meant to put the fire out, just control & contain.
  • 7 samples were taken right around the explosion
    • 6 showed no PCBs
    • 1 on John St & Bridge St (opposite direction from smoke) showed 3 ppm (from where they took the sample it could have easily have been there for years from a previous incident or old contamination…)
  • previous testing on oil in Reactor Transformer Unit showed <1ppm PCB
  • ~600 of 750 gallons of di-electric fluid (coolant oil – 750 total in the transformer) were burned.
  • An expert from Con Ed stated that even if the whole 600 gallons of oil had 3ppm that there would still be less than an ounce of PBC total released into environment
  • Con Ed is willing to get some 3rd party testing done on the neighborhood and is going to be working w/ the Vinegar Hill Association to determine from where the samples will be taken
  • Any damage to property should be submitted as a claim

A complete meeting minutes will be posted as soon as we get them from the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association.

{Special Meeting of the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association on Fire at ConEd, 22May2012}
{ConEd Substation Explosion Collateral Damage, 14May2012}
{Fire at ConEd Plant in Vinegar Hill Yesterday (Again), 30Apr2012}
{ConEd Transformer Explosion in Dumbo, 16Sept2011}