Business owners affected by last weekâ€™s Con Edison steam pipe explosion in New York City are demanding that the utility reimburse them for business lost as a result of the blast. But it looks like these businesses are in for a fight, because while Con Edison said it will reimburse them for goods, equipment and fixtures damaged as a result of the steam pipe explosion, it has no obligation to pay for business losses.
At a news conference yesterday, several business owners worried that they might not be able to recover financially without more help from Con Edison. The manager of a hair salon and spa on Lexington Avenue said that his business lost more than $50,000 because it was forced to close for several days following the <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/new_york_city_steam_pipe_explosion">explosion. Other business owners told much the same story.
The group said they placed responsibility for the blast on Con Edison, the owner of the 105-mile steam pipe network that held the ruptured pipe. They say that the company failed to properly maintain the pipes, and that is why the 84-year-old steam main ruptured last Wednesday. City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who also attended the news conference, said that according to a Public Service Commission document, Con Edison had cut funds for steam system maintenance from $23 million in 2004 to $10 million in 2006.
Con Edison has maintained that it will follow its usual policy of reimbursing customers for electrical disruptions. That policy does not allow the company to reimburse a business for financial losses. Con Edisonâ€™s own lawyers will be responsible for determining how much reimbursement money a customer is entitled to. Some at the news conference were wary that the companyâ€™s lawyers would treat them fairly, and they did not agree with Con Edisonâ€™s assertion that Wednesdayâ€™s blast was a simple â€œelectrical disruptionâ€.
New Yorkâ€™s City Council has asked Con Edison representatives to meet with them on August 7th. They want to address the utilityâ€™s maintenance issues, as well as its reimbursement policy.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Govern Eliot Spitzer announced that they have requested a disaster declaration from the federal Small Business Administration. If the declaration is approved, low interest loans will be available to help businesses make repairs and replace inventory.
Last Wednesdayâ€™s explosion occurred when a 24-inch steam pipe burst. The resulting explosion sent hot vapor and debris hundreds of feet into the air. One woman died as a result of the explosion, and as many as 40 people were injured.