Parents and Neighbors Fret As Fuel Leaks From Boiler Parked for Years Outside Public School

By Michael McDowell

A leaky boiler sitting outside PS 145 at 150 West 105th Street has alarmed parents and neighbors, who say it has become a neighborhood nuisance. The boiler, which some neighbors maintain has been installed on 105th for as many as seven years, was meant to be a temporary fix as part of a school construction project due to be completed years ago.

FDNY responded to reports of gas odor on 105th Street and Amsterdam Avenue on Tuesday morning, a spokesman confirmed. Firefighters traced the aroma to the boiler, where a mechanic was at work on a fuel line, and deemed the situation mitigated.

Firefighters also observed a “minimal” fuel leak.

Fumes from the boiler have been so severe in the past few weeks that Gianna Falcon, who lives on 105th Street, is concerned for her health, as well as for the safety of the children who attend PS 145.

“A small group of students in the auditorium [at PS 145] was briefly and safely relocated to a different room due to smoke on Tuesday, and there were no injuries,” said Miranda Barbot, deputy press secretary at the NYC Department of Education.

But fumes aren’t the only problem. There have been at least two oil leaks, said a school official who did not want to be named for this story. The official attributed these leaks to a cracked fuel line.

The Rag observed an oil leak, as well as the presence of noxious fumes in the air as far away as Amsterdam Avenue on Tuesday. Three workers were at the site, spreading “Instant Spill Remover” over an oil slick that ran almost all the way down 105th Street to Amsterdam Avenue.

Falcon said she has reported the leaky boiler to the EPA, and said that EPA officials have visited the site, but an EPA spokesperson said the agency had no report on file for the boiler.

An anticipated completion date on an NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) sign for a “boiler conversion” at PS 145 has been whited out. The Rag was not able to reach a representative of the boiler company for comment.

That sign lists B.G. National Plumbing and Heating, Inc., as the general contractor for the project. Reached by phone, a representative for B.G. indicated that there were issues with the NYC SCA, but declined to comment for this story.

Steven Tuozzolo, NYC SCA Borough Representative for Manhattan, also declined to comment.

PS 145 parents are concerned.

James Taber, who lives on 105th Street and whose daughter is enrolled at the school, said he believes that principal Natalia Russo is doing her best to have the boiler removed, but that she has told parents that she has been unable to get answers from the NYC Department of Education as to a timeline for construction, details regarding when the boiler is due to be removed or replaced, or even information regarding who is responsible for the project.

According to Taber, the NYC SCA sign outside PS 145 once indicated that the project would be completed in 2015. That was in 2016, when his family moved to an apartment nearby.

 

At a recent parents association meeting, Taber said Russo encouraged parents to contact elected officials regarding the boiler. He did so, but answers have not been forthcoming.

“As a parent and as a neighbor, we want to make sure it’s safe, and we want to know when the project is going to be done,” Taber stressed.

According to Barbot, the boiler at PS 145 “will be removed as soon as possible.”

The Rag was unable to confirm precisely when the boiler was installed on 105th Street, for what reason it was installed, as well as a timeline for its removal.

Falcon said she received a call from Tuozzolo on Wednesday, who informed her that the boiler would be removed as soon as Con Edison is able to transition the system. He estimated that this could occur by late February.

NEWS | 4 comments | permalink
    1. jezbel says:

      Someone in the neighborhood needs to call one of the local TV stations to get them to get a little more attention. This is a potentially horrific situation. My building had a problem with a gas leak and the boiler a couple years ago and we had a temporary boiler just like this school. It was only there for 3 months and most people complained daily. So there was alot of pressure on the building owners to get the work done.
      This is a public school, there are hundreds of children in there (not to mention the neighbors in close proximity). Seven years? This is a travesty. Something terrible could happen to the children there if there are chronic gas leaks. This is an accident waiting to happen. Call the local Assembly Person, call the local Representatives, call the TV stations, call the newspapers.

      • your_neighbor says:

        The reason it was outside your building for only three months is because these outside boilers rent for a huge amount of money. Your landlord or co-op board is going to be much more interested in that expense than the city of New York where it is just a tiny fraction of a decimal point in the budget.

    2. JDoe says:

      Hard to believe the Principal is unable to obtain information on this Safety issue, yet administration is clueless about many things these days.

    3. Gaby says:

      They do not care about minority children.