New calls for action on illegal gas hook-ups after Eyewitness News investigation

Friday, May 15, 2015
Investigation leads to calls for inspections of illegal gas lines
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Jim Hoffer has more on the investigation.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A councilman, community leaders and residents stood outside one of the buildings where our investigation found dangerous illegal gas hook-ups.

"This demands action," Councilman Mark Levine said.

The Washington Heights City Councilman wants the city and ConEd to check hundreds of buildings owned by ALMA Realty following last week's Eyewitness News Investigation. Acting on a tip from a former ALMA worker, we found eight of ALMA's apartment buildings had illegal gas hook-ups, mostly laundry rooms and basement apartments.

"They own dozens, scores of buildings. If eight buildings had illegal gas hook-ups, who knows how many more," Levine said.

A tenant in one of the ALMA owned buildings agrees.

"I think it should concern everyone in building, a gas line," Pedero Velez said.

All of the laundry rooms in the eight buildings have been closed until they're made safe again. But after our investigation, we found three additional laundries at ALMA buildings that had been closed. It's uncertain why. The initial eight were closed for safety reasons.

"They were trying to draw gas thru laundry rooms in pipes and meters that were inadequate to handle the load," Michael Clendenin of ConEd told us in our last report.

ConEd found 150 illegal gas hook-ups out of more than one million gas customers last year. Councilman Levine says the avoidance of another East Harlem-like gas explosion depends on Con Ed and the city finding more.

"They are clearly missing hook-ups. They need more inspectors out," Levine said.

ALMA management says it is conducting a thorough review and inspection of all operating gas lines entering their buildings to make sure they are in full compliance with building codes. The laundry facilities will remain closed until those inspections are completed.