Concerned letter to DOB from Moya forebodes gas line explosion in Elmhurst

Photo: FDNY

Councilman Francisco Moya says that he had shown concern for the construction site which was involved in a partial street collapse, leading to a gas line break that sent debris all over Northern Boulevard in East Elmhurst on Jan. 4.

An active stop work order on the property and thousands of dollars in fines did not stop of the construction charging ahead for the developers at 112-51 Northern Blvd., and Moya said he had issued a letter to the city Department of Buildings (DOB) in May to encourage enforcement action.

Moya expressed concern for the safety of workers at the jobs site and indicated that they over $10,000 in fines racked up at the time of the letter.

“As you know, the development has already been issued a partial stop-work order and has been hit with at least eight violations issued related to unsafe working conditions as of March 2018,” Moya said. “These violations indicate not only a continual flouting of safety regulations but also raise the question of whether the property owner is permitting construction in flagrant disregard of the stop work order at the site.”

The DOB told QNS on Tuesday afternoon that enforcement action had been taken in the form of fines and stop work orders, and the investigation into the cause of the destruction is still ongoing within their agency.

“We thank Councilmember Moya for relaying his concerns regarding this site,” a DOB statement read. “DOB has inspected this site regularly since construction permits were issued in 2017, and have taken multiple enforcement actions, including in April 2017, when we issued the first of several stop work orders at the site.”

The latest complaint issued at the address, aside from Friday’s incident, was on Dec. 28, 2018 for work continuing despite the SWO but no violation was issued because the site was closed and secured upon inspection, according to the DOB site.

But Con Edison said on Jan. 4 that they believe the collapse of a below-street level excavation wall was the culprit. When the concrete barrier to the below ground site gave way, soil spilled through leading to a rupture in the gas line and concrete to collapse into the hole.

There was only one injury from the incident, which FDNY said may have been unrelated to the blast from the gas main breaking and ConEd said there was no loss in service for the residents.

FDNY said the call came in around 2 p.m. on Jan. 4.

The city Department of Buildings was on site to assess safety and ConEd told QNS on Jan. 4 that the city Department of Environmental Protection were responding to a water main break.

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