Union claims NYC using unqualified laborers to work on gas lines, warns of ‘public safety time bomb’

A New York plumbers union filed suit against the city and alleged failures to adhere to the law may have put residents at serious risk: “the magnitude of the catastrophe…is incalculable.”

Recently, Plumbers Union Local 1 filed a 45-page complaint through the Manhattan Supreme Court asserting that the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) has failed to comply with licensing requirement laws despite the obvious dangers posed by hazardous gases.

Citing deadly explosions that took place in East Harlem and the East Village in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the union claimed, “DOB’s complete dereliction of its duty to enforce gas and welder qualification requirements has facilitated wholesale non-compliance with these safety rules throughout the City and created a public safety time bomb.”

“Given the damage caused by these gas explosions,” the suit stated, “the magnitude of the catastrophe that would result from a gas explosion in a 45-story tower in Manhattan, on a densely populated block, is incalculable.”

As reported by the New York Post, the complaint lists at least 21 jobs where gas welders were in violation of a 2020 law that prohibits conducting hazardous work without a DOB-issued Gas Qualification permit

The suit further claimed that from Nov. 19-30, 2022 alone, at least 460 authorizations from DOB to turn on gas lacked documentation to prove the work was conducted by a qualified vendor. Four specific contractors were listed in the suit including A&M Warsaw Plumbing & Heating Inc. and Donato Inc. Plumbing & Heating which the union allegedly documented 31 and 42 approvals lacking require documentation or specifying unqualified employees assigned to the job.

Similarly, Demar Mechanical and TT Mechanical were said to have committed 44 and 24 violations of their own within the past four months.

Along with claims of work done for wealthy clients, including the newly opened Ritz-Carlton that boasts suites as pricey as $10,000 per night, the suit alleged that DOB had been approving “illegal gas work” on taxpayer-funded projects, naming two said to have been done by Demar Mechanical.

Michael Apuzzo, a business manager for the union told the Post, “To me this smells like a case of really bad gas.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Rudansky, spokesman for DOB, issued a statement that read, “The safety of our fellow New Yorkers is our highest priority, which is why New York City has among the most stringent gas safety requirements anywhere in the Country.”

“DOB only issues permits for gas-related work to Licensed Master Plumbers. These plumbers are legally responsible to ensure that the permitted gas work is performed by themselves or by qualified individuals under their direct and continued supervision,” he continued. “New and modified gas piping work undergoes inspections and pressure testing in the presence of a DOB inspector prior to gas service being authorized. We are reviewing the lawsuit.”

As for the individual contractors named in the suit, none returned requests for comment from the outlet.

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