By Sabina Mollot
As part of drilling work associated with the plan to build at least 16 contaminant recovery wells in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Con Ed hit a gas line on Monday, causing a shutdown at 6 Peter Cooper Road.
The shutdown of the gas line feeding the building was announced by StuyTown Property Services in the morning via a flier.
In it, SPS CEO Rick Hayduk warned that at another building in Stuyvesant Town, something similar happened last year and it was almost six weeks before the gas was restored.
“Because of regulations and safety protocols, restoring the gas is a complicated process that requires considerable cooperation and coordination by us, residents, contractor and city agencies,” said Hayduk. “Inasmuch as we would like to get gas to every apartment and the laundry room as quickly as possible, we cannot compromise resident health or safety.”
The flier also warned residents that workers with the engineering and maintenance departments would need access to their apartments to cap the gas valves over possibly three or four visits.
“This is considered emergency work and we ask that access not be denied,” Hayduk said, adding that any refusals would delay repairs for the entire building.
Management, meanwhile, has committed to a 25 percent rent credit for each day without gas or $30 a day, whichever is greater, for impacted residents. The credits will be reflected on the August rent bill. In the meantime, residents of 6 Peter Cooper Road have already had their key-cards reprogrammed so they can access the washers and driers at 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road and 541 East 20th Street.
Asked what may have caused Con Ed to hit a line, Hayduk told Town & Village that the utility had looked at three different utility maps and believed the area was free of any lines.
A spokesperson for Con Ed, Robert McGee, told us, “We regret the accident caused by one of our contractors doing work on a project in the Peter Cooper/Stuyvesant complex. We are reviewing the matter to make sure similar incidents do not occur again. We are working closely with the building management to restore gas service safely.”
He later said repairs to the pipe are expected to be made this week, but as for when gas is back on, this depends on the building’s plumbing passing the city’s safety certification indicating its pipes are ready to handle gas.
Susan Steinberg, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, recalled how tenants in the same building went through the same thing after Superstorm Sandy, and were stuck without gas for weeks.
“It was painful then; it’s painful now,” said Steinberg. “It’s regrettable that Con Ed itself was not aware how close the new tar collection pit was to a utility line. Considering that there will be a total of 16 wells installed in the community, let’s hope they are carefully studying the locations of all their utility lines to avoid any additional incidences. It is good to see that management was proactive and did not have to be prodded to offer compensation to affected residents as CW Capital had been during Sandy.”
Drilling for the wells began on June 18. Their purpose is to collect any underground contaminants like tar that may have remained from the days when the property was home to a manufactured gas plant. The wells will be on site for the foreseeable future and Con Ed recently said there may be a few extra wells needed in addition to the initially planned 16.
The company has also said once the wells are installed they will be checked within two weeks of being placed and then quarterly or semi-annually, based on how much material they collect.