Feds Found Multiple ‘Small Gas Leaks’ Near Harlem Explosion Site

In this image handout provided by the Office of Mayor of New York, firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) respond to a five-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City. Reports of an explosion were heard before the collapse of two multiple-dwelling buildings at East 116th St. and Park Avenue that left at least 17 injured and a number of people are missing.
Photo: Rob Bennett/Office of Mayor of New York

In a preliminary report released today on the East Harlem explosion that killed eight people, the National Transportation Safety Board said it found "small gas leaks below the pavement" in a cast-iron gas main installed in 1887. Previously, the agency said it found a single leak in a gas main next to one of the two collapsed buildings. The on-site investigation has now concluded, and sections of the iron main, a plastic main installed in 2011, and a cracked water main that may have contributed to the gas leak will be examined in the NTSB's Washington, D.C. laboratory. The agency will also look at leak surveys and maintenance records, and spokesman Eric Weiss said they expect to "come to a probable cause and perhaps some recommendations" in several months.