DUMBO residents worry about ever-present gas leak

April 30, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ladder Company 118 responded on Tuesday to a report of gas venting from a grate in front of 51 Jay St. in DUMBO. FDNY has responded to the leak nine times over the past year. Photo by Mary Frost
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DUMBO residents and workers have become increasingly alarmed about a gas leak on Jay Street that has been venting from street grates for months.

The New York City Fire Department has been called to 51 Jay St. nine times over the past year, FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

“I was in the city the night of the 2nd Avenue explosion,” Doreen Gallo, executive director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance (DNA), told the Eagle. “If there’s gas, we should be diligent in finding the source of the leak.”

Gallo worries about major construction going on near the leak, including luxury condos rising at 51 Jay St., just feet from one of the grates.

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“If someone threw a cigarette where the grate is, kapow! We could have another 2nd Avenue,” she speculated.

National Grid says residents don’t have to worry. “It’s a very minor, non-hazardous leak in the street,” National Grid spokesperson Karen Young said on Wednesday. A thrown cigarette butt or sparks from construction won’t cause a conflagration because “we are conducting regular surveys to make sure the area is safe; it’s venting.” Since gas is lighter than air, “it’s dissipating,” she added.

Young said National Grid monitors minor leaks and works them into its schedule.

Still, she said, National Grid encourages people to call 911 every time they smell gas. “Safety is our top priority. We investigate every call.”

The intersection where the gas is leaking is surrounded by busy venues including St. Ann’s Warehouse and the technology and startup hub at 20 Jay St., with Brooklyn Roasting Company nearby.

Across the street from the leak is the Phoenix House Career Academy at 50 Jay. On March 14, roughly 50 people were evacuated from Phoenix House at 9:20 p.m. due to an odor of gas.

A spokesperson for Councilmember Stephen Levin’s office told the Eagle on Wednesday that “any gas leak is of concern. Our office has reached out to National Grid to request a repair and they have notified us that one will be made shortly.”

Young said National Grid “will conduct testing to determine the location for the repair.”

A firefighter inspecting the scene on Tuesday said emphatically that people should call 911 “every time they smell gas.” He added that he didn’t understand why more people didn’t call.

DNA’s Gallo told the Eagle that she called people she knew at 57 Jay Street to ask them if they had also smelled the gas.

“Three people complained about the gas, but none of us called 911,” she said.

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