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Asbestos Found at Site of Fatal New York Steam Blast

November 11, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ An explosive blast of steam that killed a workman and burned six people caused asbestos contamination at the city’s oldest power plant, an official said Wednesday.

There was no danger to nearby residents, said Richard Mulieri, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison. One of the injured men was a contractor removing asbestos inside, Mulieri said.

Tuesday night’s explosion shook the neighborhood around Consolidated Edison’s Waterside Station two blocks south of the United Nations.

Steam exploded from a 24-inch pipe that runs across an alley between the 10-story plant’s two buildings, said Deputy Fire Commissioner William Feehan. The cause wasn’t immediately known.

Steam filled the plant and alley for hours, creating a deafening roar, and temperatures reached 450 degrees inside, said Con Ed spokeswoman Martha Liipfert.

Eugene Murtha, 58, a Con Ed mechanic, died at the scene.

Asbestos, a cancer-causing material used for insallation, was found in ground samples outside and inside. Outdoor asbestos has been cleaned up, Mulieri said.

Five firefighters were burned, one critically, as they searched for a man they had been told incorrectly was trapped under a transformer.

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