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City's new gas safety rules to prevent tragedies like East Village explosion

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Mayor de Blasio signed 10 pieces of legislation will ensure greater gas safety

Mayor Bill de Blasio has finally taken action to help ensure that deadly incidents like the 2015 East Village gas explosion that leveled three buildings aren’t repeated throughout the city. On Tuesday, the mayor signed a series of new gas safety legislations into law. They include measures that require property owners to provide written guidance to tenants on proper protocol if a gas leak is suspected, among other things.

A total of ten bills specifically pertaining to gas safety were enacted on Tuesday. Here’s a few highlights of the new legislations:

  • Intro. 738-A: requires all work on gas piping systems to be completed by a licensed professional or person with gas work qualifications issued by the Department of Buildings.
  • Intro. 1079-A: requires the final inspection of gas pipe systems to be conducted by the Department of Buildings in the presence of the building holder or the superintendent of the building.
  • Intro. 1088-A: requires building owners to have their gas piping systems inspected by a DOB-qualified inspector every five years and to report on any fixes or corrections which were made after this inspection.
  • Intro. 1090-A: requires dwelling owners to deliver a notice to all current and prospective tenants with written guidance of what they should do if a gas leak is suspected or discovered.
  • Intro. 1093-A: requires gas service operators and owners to notify the DOB within 24 hours of gas service being shut off in a building. Additionally, gas service operators and owners must notify the DOB within 24 hours if gas cannot be restored due to safety concerns.

Under conditions set by other intros, a penalty waiver program will give property owners the opportunity to bring buildings up to code without paying a penalty, while gas utility companies would be required to provide annual reports on gas asset conditions.

“I was shocked to learn that the city has required inspections for boilers, elevators, water tanks, water recycling systems, and sprinklers, but until now, no inspections for gas piping systems have been required,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal.

The legislation garnered the support of many council members, who saw the importance of establishing such deadlines, given the number of incidents that have erupted in recent years. “In a relatively short time we've seen a number of gas explosions take place in the city; many of them due to failures to report and handle gas leaks properly. To ensure the well-being of New Yorkers and first responders, it's vital we pass legislation that will implement and enforce a system of safety procedures followed by all building owners and plumbers," said Council Member Jumaane Williams.

Back in October, the city challenged a lawsuit filed by the neighbors who were affected by the East Village explosion. They charged the city with failing to properly test gas lines and using outdated inspection methods, however, the city thrusted the blame back onto the building managers along with Con Edison.

The building owners of 121 Second Avenue are currently facing manslaughter charges for the alleged illegal installation of gas lines that sparked the explosion.