Con Ed nixes safety suggestions

By Melanie Wallis

Last week the Post reported some suggestions by Simon Ben-Avi, an electrical-engineering professor and associate dean at Cooper Union, on how to improve the safety of Con Edison’s junction box covers and manhole covers on the street. These included painting the boxes with a special substance that will glow when electrified and using a different, nonconductive material for the boxes themselves.

Joe Petta, a Con Edison spokesperson, said that testing and research is constantly being carried out to improve the safety of the 250,000 manhole and service box covers. However Petta disregarded the suggestions of painting the box lids with electrofluorescent paint that would glow if there was an electricity leak, saying that they have followed leads regarding this suggested solution but have reached a “dead end.” “As far as we are concerned such a paint does not exist,” Petta said.

Petta said Con Ed is just as unhopeful about finding a suitable, nonconductive alternative material to replace the metal covers currently in place.

“Various kinds of composite covers have been tested for many years” Petta said, “but nothing has been able to withstand the demands of New York City traffic. Even the metal structures suffer damage.”