2007_08_bailey.jpgOn Tuesday, a Con Ed executive faced a number of irritated City Council members seeking answers about the July 18 steam pipe explosion in Midtown. Senior vice president William Longhi said that the investigation could take another two or three months, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "You may not have all the answers and all the Ts crossed and all the Is dotted. I can accept that. But I cannot accept that you have absolutely nothing to tell us about why this may have happened.

So far, the utility has ruled out a previous repair as the cause of the blast. Apparently the 83-year-old pipe's seam had been patched up, possibly shoddily, but the explosion seemed spontaneous. Still, City Councilman Peter Vallone, whose frustration with Con Ed stems from last summer's Queens blackout, said, "I'm just about as sick of sitting here asking questions as I'm sure Con Ed must be of coming up with ways to evade them. Con Ed sounds like a criminal who's lawyered up." Ouch! As for why Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke did not attend the meeting, the Sun reports Longhi said "Mr. Burke was at work, and that they had both agreed that Mr. Longhi would be the best person to testify." Or the best new punching bag for the City Council.

Yesterday, Judith Bailey, who was in a vehicle right over the explosion and suffered third-degree burns over 30% of her body from the blast, was released from the hospital. The mother of two young girls thanked everyone for their support and said, "I thank God that I'm alive today." She is joining Gregory McCullough, the tow truck driver who had picked her up, in suing Con Ed. Bailey was interviewed by the Times and said, "My skin was just off, my skin was gone. I just started tearing my clothes off, splashing water. I was saying, ‘Please God, let it stop burning.’" McCullough, who suffered burns over 80% of his body, remains at New York Hospital's burn unit.

And businesses in the vicinity of the blast are struggling. A deli right near the crater left from the explosion is paying employees out of pocket to keep them (the deli's been closed since the blast) and hoping the DEP can deem it safe enough to reopen. Another restaurant owner tells the Times he won't accept Con Ed's offer of reimbursement if that means he has to give up the right to sue.