Lamppost in Bayside listed as worst hot spot: Con Ed

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A Con Edison inspection of stray electrical current flowing through manhole covers, service box lids and lampposts in the city revealed that a lamppost in Bayside had the highest voltage of any in the city.

Of the 550,000 lampposts, manhole covers and service box lids in the city that ConEdison investigated for voltages of stray electric current last week, a lamppost at 53rd Avenue and Oceania Street in Bayside had 140 volts running through it, according to Con Edison.

Con Edison released a list last week of the hot spots found throughout the city. The list noted that in Queens there were 34 lampposts and 24 service box lids or manhole covers that had stray electric current coursing through them.

Many other covers, lids and lampposts checked for stray electrical current had voltages in the single and double digits.

Con Edison spokesman Chris Olert Tuesday said the trouble spots in Queens with stray electric current had been fixed.

“As soon as we saw a problem we fixed it,” Olert said. “It’s like a flat tire on your car. You don’t drive with it — you fix it.”

Con Edison began inspecting the covers, lids and lampposts following the electrocution of a Manhattan women, Jodie Lane, 30, who died when she stepped on an electrified service box lid in East Village earlier this month.

Olert said crews were sent out immediately to begin working to fix the problem.

He said the stray electric current in the covers, lids and lampposts was caused by several factors.

Most cases were due to deterioration of insulated coverings around electric cables, others were caused by water that had damaged electric cables and some were due to problems within a customer’s infrastructure, Olert said.

The electrified service box lid that electrocuted Lane was attributed to deterioration of the cable coverings due to de-icing salt spread on the sidewalk, according to Olert.

“It was a tragedy, an unusual tragedy,” Olert said.

Meanwhile, state and city officials were calling for better and more frequent inspections of the city’s electricity infrastructure.

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) blasted Con Edison following Lane’s death, saying the incident was not the first time deteriorated cables had caused problems in the city. Vallone pointed to a fire in Astoria in July 2003 that was caused by a deteriorated, underground cable as another example of the need for ConEdison and the city Department of Transportation to increase inspections of the city’s electricity system.

“New Yorkers should not be walking through a minefield,” Vallone said.

Reach Reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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