Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oh Sure, I Believe You

Mayor Moneybags claims the air around East 41st Street and Lexington Avenue is asbestos-free after a steam pipe exploded last night and a geyser of water, debris and hazardous materials including asbestos shot 77 stories into the air, higher than the near-by Chrysler Building.

The city released results from tests conducted overnight and reported that while debris from the explosion does contain asbestos from the pipe, the air around the area does not and is therefore safe for residents and workers in the area.

Reuters reports many people are reacting to the city's claims with skepticism:

New Yorkers questioned if the air was safe after false assurances following the September 11 attacks and after utility Consolidated Edison admitted covering up that a steam pipe explosion in 1989, which claimed three lives, spewed asbestos into a residential neighborhood.

Carlos Garcia, an engineer wearing a breathing mask, said he volunteered during the clean-up of the World Trade Center site and would not take any risks now.

"I'm worried about the air ... I survived once so I want to survive the second time," he said. "They lie and they want to cover themselves. They have been lying all along since the World Trade Center."

Residents and workers at Ground Zero were reassured by the Environmental Protection Agency in the days after the September 11 attacks that the air was safe, but dust samples taken at the time found dangerous levels of asbestos.

"If police are here wearing these masks there must be an issue (with the air)," said Marvin Factor, 60, a banker who could reach his office. "We deserve to know."


New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said that of eight air samples taken from near Wednesday's steam pipe blast, none had tested positive for asbestos, a once-popular fire retardant and known carcinogen.

But OEM said brief exposure to asbestos is unlikely to have long-term health consequences.

ConEd appealed for anyone in the explosion area to hand in any belongings covered in dust or debris in a plastic bag, so they can be disposed of safely, and urged people still inside buildings in the blast zone to keep windows closed.

Do you have all that? The air is safe, you're not at risk for asbestos-related illnesses if you were in the area and were hit with debris last night, but just to be safe you should take your clothes and burn them.

As George Carlin once said, never believe anything your government tells you.


I bet Mayor Moneybags spent most of last night with his battery of lawyers trying to figure out how to minimize the city's liability over the incident which killed 1 person and injured at least 30.

As we know has happened with the 9/11 heroes, Bloomberg talks a good game in public but does everything he can to make sure the city never has to pay out a dime to people sickened by hazardous material exposure.

And that's all the assurance statements from the city are about - limiting legal liability for future illnesses caused by yesterday's explosion.

Given that the city lied about asbestos contamination back in 1989 after a similar steam pipe explosion around Gramercy Park and about the safety of the air quality around Ground Zero after 9/11, frankly there is no way I'll believe Mayor Moneybags about the safety of the air around yesterday's explosion until he does a naked cannonball into the crater on Lexington Avenue and rolls around in the mud and dirt.

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