Volume 16 • Issue 36 | February 06 - 12, 2004

Con Ed blames shoddy repair

By Albert Amateau

Last Thursday, Con Edison released a report on its investigation of why the E. 11th St. junction box that fatally electrocuted East Villager Jodie Lane was electrified. The report said an inspection of the junction box showed that a wire, which was supposed to have two layers of insulation, one with plastic tape and the other with rubber, had only one layer of plastic tape.

Con Edison said that a wire improperly insulated during a maintenance check in January 2003 in the E. 11th St. junction box contributed to the Jan. 16 accident that killed Lane.

“We found an insulated wire that had a partially exposed end that either touched or came in close proximity to the metal frame of the service box,” said the Con Edison statement that was part of the report.

The repair crew that inspected the box in front of 342 E. 11th St. after the accident found 57 volts of electricity running up the side of the box to the plate above, according to the report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg commended Con Edison in a Jan. 29 statement for its “straightforward and responsible assessment of the tragic events.” The mayor said the Department of Transportation would work with the utility company to make sure that “they can provide electricity safely to all New Yorkers.”

Con Edison said it would finish checking all of its 250,000 junction boxes within a month.

And more “hot spots” — electrified metal utility covers on the street or areas of the sidewalk — continued to be found last week in the East Village. The New York Post reported on Friday that an electrician the paper had hired found that a manhole in front of 95 Pitt St. had a potentially fatal charge of 117 volts and a junction box in front of 289 E. Fourth St. had a 30-volt charge, enough to shock a dog.

In response to the tragic death of Lane, who was electrocuted on Jan. 16 after coming in contact with the electric junction box cover, Community Board 3 last week urged Con Edison to develop a safety plan and report back to the board.

David Gmach, director of Manhattan public affairs for Con Edison, told the community board on Tues. Jan. 27 that the power company was doing a complete review of the 250,000 junction boxes in New York City and Westchester County.

—Albert Amateau


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