Harlem Council Member Levine Call To Improve Gas Line Safety

May 15, 2015

Levine_Buildings_PresserOn Friday, May 15, City Council Member Mark Levine along with tenants and tenant advocates called for preemptive safety measures to the city’s gas infrastructure.

This call for action came on the heels of a report released last week which revealed a series of illegal gas hook-ups in multiple buildings in Washington Heights and the Bronx, all connected to Alma Realty.

Shortly after last year’s blast in East Harlem, Council Member Levine partnered with Council Member Liz Crowley of Queens to push for new testing and licensing requirements for non-master plumbers seeking to do gas-line repairs, removal or installation. The aim of the bill, Intro 738, is to improve safety by creating a robust standard for plumbers performing sensitive gas work.

“This bill creates a robust standard for doing this sensitive and potentially deadly work. It’s a matter of safety to make sure we have the most highly qualified people on the job. We cannot allow the lives and health of tenants to be put at risk by unscrupulous actors who cut corners. We must do more as a city to be proactive, ramp up inspections and ensure all tenants are safe in their homes,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

The alarming discovery of the illegal gas hookups at eight buildings in northern Manhattan and the Bronx were uncovered in buildings that are all connected to Alma Realty. This also follows reports from last fall of tenants who said their gas was shut off in buildings Alma Realty owns in northern Manhattan.

“In recent months we have seen the dangers of illegal gas work in NYC. For the safety of all New Yorkers, we have a responsibility to ensure that all gas work is performed by licensed professionals” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “That is why I am proud to co-sponsor Intro 738 which would prohibit anyone from performing work on gas lines unless they have a valid gas qualification. I would like to thank Council Member Levine for his leadership on this issue and look forwarding to working with all of my colleagues to ensure this bill passes.”

“After the deadly explosions in the East Village and East Harlem, it is simply inexcusable for anyone, much less a real estate conglomerate, to display the kind of negligence uncovered at the Alma Realty buildings,”

“After the deadly explosions in the East Village and East Harlem, it is simply inexcusable for anyone, much less a real estate conglomerate, to display the kind of negligence uncovered at the Alma Realty buildings,” said Chair of the Committee on Public Safety Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-16th District, Bronx). “It is frightening to imagine that such an event could occur in my district, but these all too prevalent illegal gas hookups have put us all at risk. I urge all New Yorkers to vacate their properties if they smell gas and to immediately call 911 or Con Ed to report a possible leak. For the safety of their tenants and the surrounding communities, I join my colleagues in calling upon Alma Realty to address this serious matter swiftly and pledge they will allow this to happen again.”

Intro 738 received support from tenants and tenant advocates who called for stronger precautionary measures for the city’s underground infrastructure.

“NMIC supports the city council’s efforts to address negligent maintenance of building infrastructure that puts tenants at unnecessary risk. We encourage tenants to reach out to local agencies to report issues and seek assistance,” said Rodrigo Sanchez-Camus, Supervising Attorney at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation.

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