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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Con Ed Sued Over Fatal Explosion That Came One Hour After Assurance That Leak Was Safe

QUEENS (CN) - A leaky gas line exploded and killed a woman in her home less than an hour after Con Edison and New York Fire Department inspectors told her the leak was not dangerous, the woman's widower says. He claims Con Edison continues to leave leaky, dangerous, antiquated cast-iron gas mains throughout the city.

Kunta Oza suffered third-degree over 90 percent of her body and died the next day - on Thanksgiving 2007, her widower says.

The cast-iron gas main that exploded was installed in 1927 and was "severely degraded" by "graphitic corrosion," according to the complaint in Queens County Court.

Ramgopal Oza says the defendants ignored a 1992 National Transit Safety Board recommendation that gas utility operators "implement in a timely manner effective cast-iron replacement programs to reduce threats to public safety."

Instead of replacing these "antiquated ... hazardous pipes, Con Edison attempts to simply repair the thousands of leaks that are detected each year in its cast iron gas mains," the complaint states.

After the fatal explosion, Con Ed replaced 200 feet of buried gas line in front of the Ozas' home with new plastic pipes, the complaint states. It adds that in 2006, Con Ed repaired 2,750 leaks in its cast-iron gas mains, and replaced only 17 of them with plastic pipe.

Oza seeks punitive damages and an order enjoining the plaintiffs from continuing to use these old mains.

He is represented by Robert Horn.

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