What the smell? MTA suspends L service after noxious fumes stifle straphangers • Brooklyn Paper

What the smell? MTA suspends L service after noxious fumes stifle straphangers

No service: Transit leaders are halting service on the L train for 15 weekends, starting with this one, until April.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Don’t you love the smell of L train in the morning?

Straphangers feared for their lives while riding the beleaguered silver bullet on Tuesday, after noxious gas fumes filled the line’s two underground tunnels, reportedly causing at least one person to collapse on a train as it pulled into Manhattan from Brooklyn that morning.

“The L train has smelled like gas the past few days, and someone just passed out due to the smell and lack of air circulation,” rider Josh Fidanque‏ wrote on Twitter. “The passenger is fine, but this issue needs to be addressed ASAP.”

New York’s Bravest rushed to Bushwick Avenue between Forrest and Noll streets a little past noon after receiving multiple reports of potent fumes wafting from the line’s East River–spanning Canarsie Tube, through Kings County stations, and into the surrounding neighborhood, according to a Fire Department spokesman.

“We got reports of strong odors in the area,” said Mike Parrella.

Leaders of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority — who last Friday resumed a series of weekend repairs to the line, and recently stopped weeknight service on part of it for eight weeks to prep for the new Tube-repair scheme they will kick off in April — later announced they suspended L service between the Morgan Avenue station and Manhattan, and would run only one train on a single track between the Morgan Avenue and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues stations as workers investigated the source of the stink near the Graham Avenue station.

“There are significant disruptions in service while we investigate the source of fuel smells on the tracks near Graham Ave.,” reps for the state agency’s local arm, the New York City Transit Authority, wrote on Twitter. “Our checks have found that the air is currently safe, but we need to correct and resolve the condition before restoring service.”

The agency restored service on the line around 3:30 pm, after firefighters and workers with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection determined the odor posed no danger to straphangers, according to an Authority rep, who said the smell resulted from an oil leak unrelated to the ongoing work on the subway, or the diesel-fueled trains that ran along it during that construction the night before.

“Both departments have confirmed that non-flammable heating oil from an external source had leaked onto the track and the incident is completely unrelated to the L train project or any other MTA construction,” said the state-run agency’s spokesman Max Young. “Air quality at all stations has been tested and determined to be safe.”

Riders concerns over the fumes echoed previous worries about other potentially harmful chemicals released into the air during the subway’s forthcoming fix, which will now allow trains to run the line’s full length at reduced rates throughout the repairs to the superstorm Sandy–ravaged Tube as workers spend nights and weekends fixing one of its two tunnels at a time.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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