Con Ed to pay $700,000 in fines, implement operational changes in wake of Yonkers substation explosion

Source: New York Sate Department of Environmental Conservation

Con Edison has agreed to fund a $700,000 settlement package and to make important operational changes in the wake of a fire and explosion at one of its substations in Yonkers last fall, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.

The fire and explosion occurred on Nov. 4, 2009, at Con Edison's Dunwoodie substation, releasing about 15,000 gallons of a type of oil called dielectric fluid. Some of that oil was burned in the fire, some was contained and collected on site, and some of the oil impacted a six-mile stretch of the Bronx River. A DEC investigation linked the accident to the failure of an oil-water separator system - which had been flagged as problematic by a Con Edison consultant four months before the incident. 

Under DEC supervision, Con Edison immediately responded to, took responsibility for and cleaned up oil-contaminated debris from the Bronx River in the three weeks following the November spill. 

Under this settlement, Con Edison acknowledged not repairing the oil-water separator system until after the fire and explosion, agreed to make changes to prevent future malfunctions and consented to a comprehensive review/audit of its similar facilities in the Hudson Valley. 

Con Edison also agreed to: 

• Pay $409,000 penalty. 

• Pay a $91,000 in natural resource damages, based on impacts to aquatic life and riparian vegetation in the Bronx River. 

• Fund $200,000 worth of environmental benefits projects in the local community.

Further, the settlement calls for $185,000 in penalties that can be collected if the company fails to meet a compliance schedule for making operational changes. 

"Our investigation found that Con Edison failed to properly operate and maintain its facility, including failing to correct a known problem which resulted in a preventable spill of oil and a negative impact to public health and the environment," DEC Regional Director Willie Janeway said. 

"The good news is the company has worked cooperatively to clean up the spill, pay an appropriate penalty, fund environmental restoration of the Bronx River and create a solution that will hopefully prevent a repeat occurrence. The outcome of this case is the result of the collaborative work of numerous DEC personnel, including Region 3, the spills response team, law-enforcement investigators and staff from legal and water divisions and the natural resource damages unit."

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