Decontamination continues near steam pipe explosion in Flatiron District

FLATIRON DISTRICT, Manhattan (WABC) -- More buildings reopened Tuesday following the steam pipe explosion in Lower Manhattan that contaminated parts of the area with asbestos.

Nearly a dozen buildings had been found to have some internal contamination, and so far, 27 of the 45 evacuated buildings have been cleared for re-occupancy.

Officials hope to have that number up to 34 by the end of Tuesday. Some of the cleared buildings still have contaminants on the roof, and residents let back into those buildings were told not to go on the roof

Photos from the scene of the explosion

"They said it would be fine," area worker Eric Kibeletiz said. "They had environmental agencies in there and seemingly swept the place, took samples."

But as soon as he walked in, he walked back out.

"Well apparently, the company I work for wants to take an extra precaution and change the HVAC filters to make sure that everyone is alright," he said. "So they told us to work remotely."

Two words nobody doing a home renovation wants to hear is "asbestos abatement,"

At a meeting Monday night with residents and building owners, Con Edison said asbestos abatement would be necessary at roughly 10 buildings near the explosion site before anyone can move back home.

Most of the roads around the blast site are open to traffic, but a section of Fifth Avenue is still only open to bus traffic.

RELATED: Hazmat teams scrub sidewalks, hose down Flatiron buildings to wash away asbestos.

Street closures/openings:
-18th, 19th, 21st and 22nd Streets are now open
-5th Avenue between 20th and 21st Street remains closed to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic - with the exception of MTA buses
-5th Avenue is now open to MTA buses
-Buses are bypassing all stops between 18th and 23rd Streets along 5th Avenue

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