Exploding manholes in Albany blamed on aging cables - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Exploding manholes in Albany blamed on aging cables


ALBANY, N.Y. - Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings says it's time National Grid reviewed the city's aging underground infrastructure, after the third incident of exploding manhole covers downtown.
Fire officials and National Grid say an underground electrical fire sparked an explosion early Saturday that sent four manhole covers flying into the air in a downtown neighborhood.

It was the third such incident in less than six months, which Mayor Jennings say all happened within a half-mile radius.

Utility spokesman Patrick Stella tells NEWS10 that road salt and snow melt can erode underground cables, leading to electrical shorts and fires. But he said such situations are rare.
Stella said National Grid will work with the city on a thorough investigation of the underground infrastructure.

One of the manholes exploded right in front of one of the oldest buildings in Albany. A store manager in the area is glad no one was hurt, but says if the explosion happened just a few hours later the impact could have been far worse.

"The manhole cover that's on the patio actually did shoot up and hit the building behind us," said Seamus Caffrey of Old English Pub.

There was no one inside the Old English Pub when the manhole exploded, but it did do damage. 

"It damaged some of the bricks and one of the windowsills and it did actually take down one of the flags that caused some breakage of glass," said Caffrey.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings was less than pleased when he headed downtown to Broadway to learn four manholes had exploded at around 5:30 a.m. 

"This is something we're not going to tolerate any longer. Enough is enough," said Jennings.

Jennings was angry that after similar explosions in the city last year, the problem now still seemed to him to be unresolved. 

He tells NEWS CENTER 10 ABC he plans to meet with his staff and has been in contact with National Grid on the matter. He's now calling on the company to come up with a specific plan for how they are going to respond and permanently fix the problem.

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