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Accusations Escalate Over Gas Leak

After calling a stop work order on all construction in the village, Farmingdale officials met with the developers and representatives from National Grid and LIPA to discuss a recent gas leak caused by the ongoing development of 120 Secatogue Avenue. 

 

“The findings at that meeting were most distrubing,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. 

 

According to Ekstrand, National Grid representatives said it is at their sole discretion whether to cut off gas service at the property line or at the gas main in the street. 

 

“What we found was that there were two service lines still charged and encroaching onto the site,” Ekstrand added. “Both of these charged lines were in the way of the excavation that is to be done to create a below-grade parking garage.”

 

The leak occurred on Feb. 6, when firefighters and police were called in to evacuate residents and business owners in the area surrounding 154 South Front Street. Wendy Ladd, a spokeswoman for National Grid, told The Farmingdale Observer that utility workers were able to shut off service while they did the final repairs, and by 12:31 p.m. the area was made safe for residents to return. 

 

Village officials have further accused LIPA and National Grid of not having provided an accurate mark out of services in the area surrounding Secatogue Avenue, after excavation teams struck a gas line that went in only about 15 to 20 feet deep.

 

As a result of the utility’s cut-off procedure, Ekstrand and the village board wrote a letter to the New York State Public Service Commission, recommending that National Gird and LIPA review and revise it so the local municipality is informed of the work being performed. 

 

“The public, as well as the workers on these construction projects, need to know they are living and working in a safe environment and that they are not being put at risk by slipshod work by major utilities,” Ekstrand concludes. “It is simply irresponsible.” 

 

National Grid spokeswoman Karen D. Young disputed the village’s claims, stating that the utility did not receive a request from either the village, the contractor or the excavators to mark out the site prior to starting the excavation.  

 

“We do not have a record for a markout request at the location,” Young said. 

 

According to Young, a customer order fulfillment sent from LIPA to the developer, Bartone Properties LLC., on Jan. 24, 2013 informed the contractor that all electric and gas facilities in the area had been removed and that under state law, they are required to notify the LIPA-TELCO Utility Control Center two business days before beginning to dig. 

 

“While natural gas service to the location was discontinued in 2013, as requested by the customer, our infrastructure remains in the area and a markout was required before excavation,” said National Grid in its letter.