The scene following a steam pipe explosion in the Flatiron district.

Juliet Papa/1010 WINS

Steam pipe explosion: 12 buildings still closed, city continues testing for asbestos

July 24, 2018 - 6:45 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- The hot zone from the Flatiron District stream pipe explosion has shrunk, but a dozen buildings still remained closed early Tuesday.

In a tense Monday night meeting, city and Con Edison officials spent hours answering questions and calming worries about asbestos contamination.

Joe Esposito, who heads the city’s Office of Emergency Management, announced that nearly half of the 45 affected buildings have been reopened, with 12 additional buildings anticipated to open Tuesday.

Officials said all air samples taken at the site of the explosion have tested negative for asbestos, but they are still waiting for reports from the remaining buildings.

Con Ed's Philip O'Brien is urging residents to come in for help.

"There is no claims process or even paperwork involved. Folks come to one of our three outreach centers around the impacted area and show us a valid ID that shows they live in that area. That's all that's needed. We write them a check on the spot," he said.

Though, some residents are still apprehensive.

Ellen Martin, a resident recently allowed back into her apartment, voiced her concerns about “any dangerous, lingering chemicals or problems that they’re having removing everything.”

Meanwhile, business owners have said their stores have been losing thousands of dollars by the day.

Public briefings were planned for 5:30 and 7 p.m. Monday.