Something stinks: Pols, union leaders demand L service suspension after lingering fumes send workers to hospital

Doesn't smell right: Local pols and union leaders demanded state and city transit leaders stop service on the L line until they completely eradicate the source of lingering gas fumes in some of its stations, which sent some contractors working on the line to the hospital last week after officials claimed the odor was not harmful.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

State transportation officials must indefinitely stop service on the L train until they erase all traces of the noxious gas fumes that filled the line’s tunnels last week and reportedly sent workers to the hospital, and caused straphangers to faint and vomit, according to a local pol.

“MTA should immediately suspend train service,” Williamsburg Councilman Stephen Levin said on Friday. “Public health and safety must be our first priority, and I have heard from several constituents about sickness, nausea, and day-long headaches they’ve experienced over the past couple of days.”

Leaders of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended L service between the Morgan Avenue station and Manhattan for several hours on Monday after locals filed reports about the potent smell floating from the underground tunnel and around the neighborhood.

Firefighters and state environmental workers investigated the odor, originally claiming it resulted from an oil leak unrelated to work the L train that includes an ongoing series of weeknight and weekend repairs ahead of the massive rehabilitation of the line’s Brooklyn–Manhattan Canarsie Tube set to kick off this April.

But following their initial assessment, officials later said the fumes wafted from an abandoned diesel tank under a former gas station along the line, according to reports. And last Thursday, transit officials brought in an outside environmental consultant to test the air, which showed no contamination, according to the expert’s study.

But riders continued to complain about the stink later that night and into Friday — with paramedics rushing a handful of union employees who work on the tracks to area hospitals after they fell ill on Thursday night, according to their union boss, who demanded officials properly address the odor before it causes even worse casualties.

“The L-train situation is completely unacceptable. The air still stinks and we are concerned about long-term exposure and the health of our members working 8-hour shifts along the line,” said TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano. “We have pulled workers from some locations, and if the situation is not mitigated, we will take further action to protect the safety of our members and that of the riding public.”

Levin doubled down on Utano’s demands for a complete investigation of the stink, calling for amped up bus service to replace subways along the L line until there is no doubt the air is clear.

“Set up a robust bus service in its place until we have more answers,” the pol said. “We cannot be too cautious when it comes to workers and riders safety,” he said.

The concerns over the fumes echoed previous worries about straphangers’ exposure to other harmful chemicals potentially released into the air during the Canarsie Tube’s forthcoming repairs — which will now allow trains to run the line’s full length at reduced rates throughout the fix 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 Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, February 11, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
So now we are going to shut down subway lines because a bunch of whiny snowflakes and union thugs are complaining about bad smells? Gonna have to shut the entire system down then.
Feb. 11, 2019, 12:46 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Henry Ford seems to be the one who is always whining, perhaps he should be shut down?
Feb. 11, 2019, 1:15 pm
Brooklynrider from Williamsburg says:
This is just the beginning. Where’s Cuomo now? He should have been down here in a flash. Shut the L down as planned and get the tunnel repaired ASAP. It’s best fior everyone’s safety. Yes it’s an inonvenience for all of us, but will be safer. Do the job right so the tunnel can last another 100 years not a shoddy patch job.
Feb. 11, 2019, 1:52 pm
Bring It from Fulton Ferry says:
Demand the L-pocalypse? You deserve it.
Feb. 12, 2019, 10:42 am
Even from Bay Ridge says:
When I lived in Canarsie, there were quite a few occasions on my way to work where I had to get off the L at 1st Ave to throw up (sorry, station crew). Something set off the nausea while riding through the tunnel between Brooklyn & Manhattan. And no, I was not hungover.
Feb. 12, 2019, 1:09 pm
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
Something old and stinky this busy line comes, 24/7/365.
Feb. 12, 2019, 1:15 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: