The state Public Service Commission and Con Edison reached an agreement last Thursday for the utility to establish a $1 million reserve account that will end a PSC investigation into the April 2009 Floral Park gas explosion that killed Ghanwatti Boodram. the mother of three boys.
The PSC contended Con Ed made four violations as it responded to the explosion, which could have led to a $1 million fine against the utility.
“This resolution of the penalty issues related to the alleged gas safety code violations obtains the maximum amount that the commission could have obtained had it fully litigated a civil penalty action in this case,” PSC Chairman Garry Brown said in a statement. “This decision is in the interest of ratepayers because it provides a direct benefit to ratepayers that could not be achieved under an enforcement action. Additionally, Con Edison continues to implement enhancements to the safety of its gas delivery system.”
The PSC is asking the public for its ideas on how Con Ed should spend the reserve account.
Dindial Boodram, who lost his wife in the explosion, initially said he did not want to comment on the agreement, but then asked his son, Ryan, his thoughts. But then the father decided to make a suggestion.
“The money should be spent to improve Con Ed’s policies and proper training for their workers,” Dindial Boodram said.
Boodram said he believed the $1 million was not a harsh enough penalty.
“It’s just a slap on the wrist for them,” he said. The PSC “should have done more than that because someone’s life was lost.”
Ghanwatti Boodram, 40, was a nurse working at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan.
Boodram has filed his own lawsuit against Con Ed but declined to talk about it.
In a statement, Con Ed said it “has been following new gas leak response procedures with great success” following the Floral Park explosion.
Con Ed workers were responding to reports of a gas odor when Boodram died. She was the only one in the house at the time of the explosion, which destroyed the Boodram home and damaged a neighbor’s home.
The utility said it expected the reserve fund “will fund a variety of new equipment and public safety improvements that will enhance emergency response and communications.”
“Our deepest sympathies remain with the Boodram family and all of our customers affected by the event,” it said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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