According to Worker’s World:

While investigations into the cause of fatal explosions in New York’s East Harlem and East Village are still in progress, a couple of things are certain. These so-called accidents are happening more often, and there are potential dangers from gas blasts everywhere.

The March 26 explosion on Second Avenue in the East Village, which left two people dead, injured 22 and destroyed three buildings, was the latest incident in a dangerous trend involving gas and gas pipelines.

From 1994 to 2013, the United States had 745 serious disasters with gas distribution, causing 278 fatalities, 1,059 injuries and over $110 million in property damage. During that period an additional 110 incidents through gas transmission caused 41 deaths, 195 injuries and over $448 million in damage to property. And an additional 941 incidents from gas of all system types resulted in 363 deaths, 1,392 injuries and close to $824 million in property damage. (

Meanwhile, displaced tenants are seeking legal counseling and compensation for their losses. A meeting to inform them of their housing and personal property damage rights brought more than 100 victims of the blast together with lawyers and housing activists.

Many of the tenants who lost their apartments and personal property focused on the landlords of the buildings. But Thomas M. Curtis, lawyer for the landlord of two of the buildings, told the April 1 New York Times that Consolidated Edison was to blame.

“I think Con Ed is really culpable here for not shutting off the gas,” said Curtis. He added, 

[The utility] could have shut off the main valve.” At the meeting, attorney Arthur Schwartz urged the tenants to “look at the broader picture.” He continued, “There can be multiple defendants. I believe Con Ed may have some blame here.”

The group is now demanding that Con Ed be fully investigated for both explosions.

Turning to the East Village blast, de la Torre said, “I am horrified by this tragedy and the deaths and the destruction it has caused. But with the growth of pipelines, there are potential catastrophes everywhere.”

The new Whitney Museum, which opens this spring, sits on top of the Spectra pipeline.

“Building the Whitney on top of the pipeline puts visitors, workers and irreplaceable art, not to mention the Renzo Piano creation, at risk,” wrote Claire Donahue, program director of Sane Energy. “In the event of an explosion at the site of the vault, a crater at least the size of the museum itself is likely, and would affect an area about a block and a half in radius, with smoke, broken glass, closed streets and secondary fires affecting a much larger radius.”