FDNY and Con Edison workers at 53rd Street and Second Avenue in...

FDNY and Con Edison workers at 53rd Street and Second Avenue in midtown Manhattan, where a steam pipe burst Wednesday morning. Credit: Ed Quinn

A section of midtown Manhattan was closed Wednesday to pedestrians and traffic while emergency crews responded to a ruptured steam line and possible asbestos leak.

The FDNY said it received a call about a ruptured steam line at East 53rd Street and Second Avenue at 5:32 a.m. A Con Edison crew had been working there when excessive steam began to leak, according to the NYPD.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection personnel and Con Edison crews shut down a portion of a steam main because of the leak.

Mayor Eric Adams said at a Wednesday evening news conference that preliminary air quality tests conducted by Con Edison "did not show elevated levels of asbestos in the air," but he urged area residents to keep windows closed and wear N95 masks. He said the city's Office of Emergency Management is providing masks to residents. 

The affected area includes East 51st Street from Second to Third avenues and East 52nd Street from Second to Park avenues. Wednesday night, city officials did not provide a specific timeline for how long the area will be closed to traffic.

Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol said Wednesday's rainy weather helped clear the air of toxins and that crews would continue to clean the affected area's streets during the next few days.

Emergency Management said members of the public should avoid the area.

James Steiner, supervising attorney for the 9/11 victim compensation practice at Barasch & McGarry, said he was encouraged to see authorities had evacuated some residents and urged people to avoid the area. He said the city seemed to have learned its lesson after the 9/11 attacks, when officials urged workers to return to lower Manhattan. 

Steiner expressed concern for Con Ed and city workers who were close to the rupture while trying to shut down the leak. 

"How bad can it be?" he said. "We won't know for a long time. We may not see any of these illnesses (related to asbestos exposure) for 20 years." 

The incident resulted in the interruption of service to eight customers, Con Edison said. No injuries have been reported.

Police escorts into and out of nearby buildings will be offered to those who ask.

A section of midtown Manhattan was closed Wednesday to pedestrians and traffic while emergency crews responded to a ruptured steam line and possible asbestos leak.

The FDNY said it received a call about a ruptured steam line at East 53rd Street and Second Avenue at 5:32 a.m. A Con Edison crew had been working there when excessive steam began to leak, according to the NYPD.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection personnel and Con Edison crews shut down a portion of a steam main because of the leak.

Mayor Eric Adams said at a Wednesday evening news conference that preliminary air quality tests conducted by Con Edison "did not show elevated levels of asbestos in the air," but he urged area residents to keep windows closed and wear N95 masks. He said the city's Office of Emergency Management is providing masks to residents. 

The affected area includes East 51st Street from Second to Third avenues and East 52nd Street from Second to Park avenues. Wednesday night, city officials did not provide a specific timeline for how long the area will be closed to traffic.

Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol said Wednesday's rainy weather helped clear the air of toxins and that crews would continue to clean the affected area's streets during the next few days.

Emergency Management said members of the public should avoid the area.

James Steiner, supervising attorney for the 9/11 victim compensation practice at Barasch & McGarry, said he was encouraged to see authorities had evacuated some residents and urged people to avoid the area. He said the city seemed to have learned its lesson after the 9/11 attacks, when officials urged workers to return to lower Manhattan. 

Steiner expressed concern for Con Ed and city workers who were close to the rupture while trying to shut down the leak. 

"How bad can it be?" he said. "We won't know for a long time. We may not see any of these illnesses (related to asbestos exposure) for 20 years." 

The incident resulted in the interruption of service to eight customers, Con Edison said. No injuries have been reported.

Police escorts into and out of nearby buildings will be offered to those who ask.

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