Gas leaks make repeated appearance in Bay Terrace

Gas leaks have become commonplace for some Bay Terrace residents who claim aging infrastructure could be the culprit.
Photo by Mark Hallum
By Mark Hallum

One Bay Terrace resident raised concerns about the gas infrastructure in her neighborhood as the Fire Department and ConEd were at work repairing the gas main near her home Tuesday for the second time in 12 months.

Maryanne McGowan said she has lived in her World War II-era home at 205th Street and 23rd Avenue for most her life, and she said the infrastructure surrounding the home may be aging faster than the energy service can repair or replace the main.

“This morning, I could smell gas in the house and started venting windows,” McGowan said. “I had this problem last year; January to April, I had to call them six times. The Fire Department had to break into four houses. … I can’t just keep hoping that when I wake up I don’t smell gas, and I can’t leave the house because I have to open all the windows.”

According to a ConEd spokesman, a citywide capital program is in place to replace gas mains that show signs of decline or have repeated issues. But a common reason for gas leaks is not old, cast-iron pipes, as McGowan believed, but shifting soil around the mains, the spokesman explained.

“If there’s been water main breaks or something like that and the ground underneath the main has become less stable, that can make it more susceptible to either fissures, breakage, ruptures,” the spokesman said, adding: “You can have a brand-new plastic main, and if the ground around it had shifted because of street work for whatever reason, that main would be at more risk than a main that’s been sitting with solid ground around it for 100 years.

“If there are areas that seem to be problem areas, we target them for replacement.”

ConEd could not provide background on the specific issues in Bay Terrace before press time, but two FDNY trucks were at the scene Tuesday afternoon along with three ConEd vehicles all going door to door to work with residents to resolve the issue.

As McGowan stood in front of her house, the smell of gas was present.

“I don’t think they’re doing their job,” she said. “I think they’re digging little holes here and there where it’s a 70-year-old main.”

She said that as many as six houses may have been affected by Tuesday’s leak. “It happens when the temperature goes up and the draw from the high-pressure mains slows down. The gas backs up.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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