Department of Buildings records indicate that plumbing work being done in the 2nd Avenue building believed to have been the source of yesterday’s East Village explosion did not have the necessary permits,according to the Times.
Authorities believe that the explosion that took down 119-123 Second Avenue yesterday afternoonstemmed from gas work being done at 121 Second Avenue. ConEdison officials told reporters that inspectors had been at the building less than two hours before the explosion and determined that the plumber handling the work had not left enough room for a new meter; they did not let gas flow in through the new pipe.
But ConEd inspectors did not deem it necessary to check the old pipes, and do not know what ultimately led to the explosion; in a statement on their website, they note that they had “no reports of gas odors in the area prior to the fire and explosion,” and that no leaks were found during a survey of the gas mains on the block yesterday.
More chillingly, Department of Buildings records show the building did not have any new plumbing or gas work permits, and it’s unclear who was working on the pipes at the time. “All we know is that there was no approval from D.O.B. to do any plumbing work in that building after November 2014,” said former DOB commissioner Stewart D. O’Brien told the Times.
The only current work permit for the building was issued to general contractor Dilber Kukic, and calls for minor renovation and replacement work, including the “replacement, relocation and installation of plumbing fixtures.” The Times reports that Kukic had a subcontractor working on the building who has not yet been named; DNAinfo reports that Kukic was actually on the scene during the explosion to check out a gas odor and survived.
Kukic, who told reporters he finished the renovation work six months ago and did not do any work in the basement, is being treated at an area hospital. “As soon as we opened the basement door, there was an explosion, a fire,” he told the website. “It was full of smoke. The debris was on top of me.”
Notably, Kukic was arrested as part of a sweeping corruption-related indictment earlier this year that named employees from the Department of Building, Department, Housing Preservation and Development, and property managers. He has been accused of bribing an undercover investigator to dismiss building violations on properties he owns uptown; he has plead not guilty to the charges.