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Mystery L train odor 'not in any way toxic or unsafe,' says MTA

The noxious fumes caused major service disruptions earlier this week.

Pat Warren, the MTA's chief safety officer, discusses

Pat Warren, the MTA's chief safety officer, discusses the fumes along the L line from outside the Graham Avenue station on Wednesday evening. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

In the waft of a lingering mystery odor that nauseated riders and workers all week, the MTA on Wednesday insisted the L line is safe.

Pat Warren, the MTA’s chief safety officer, said the odor is “not in any way toxic or unsafe” as he visited the Graham Avenue station ahead of the evening rush hour.

MTA crews are relying on blankets and mats to soak up what the authority believes to be an oil that has seeped into the stations between Graham Avenue and Grand Street in Brooklyn. Fans were cycling air on the station vents at Graham as the authority works with the city’s Fire Department and state’s Department of Enviornmental Conservation to monitor air quality along the line.

“We don’t really totally know what it is but it appears to be some kind of oil that seeped in through the ground,” Warren said. “It’s not clear exactly where it came from.”

Warren added that “Safety is our number one priority. We’re not going to put the passengers, our customers, at risk—nor are we going to put our employees at risk.”

Yet riders have complained of headaches since the fumes were first noticed on Monday and two MTA employees have asked to be treated for nausea in the past two days, according to Warren.

“I can still taste it in my throat,” said James Urbino, 55, who commutes on the L every day from Graham, adding that he “absolutely do[es] not” believe the MTA that the line is safe.

“Look at what happened with the Trade Center,” he added.

That hasn’t stopped his every day trips.

“It is what it is,” he shrugged.

Rosa Donmartin, 59, of Greenpoint, said the smell has dissipated some, but that the line was “much better today.”

“It was bad down here yesterday,” she said. “We’ve been smelling it for the whole week. It was slippery; it was awful down there.”

“We’re concerned, the community is concerned, because we don’t know what’s leaking and what’s in the air,” she added. 

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