Portions of Manhattan’s East Side went under shelter-in-place orders after a steam leak forced emergency crews to shut down roads, restaurants, and businesses.

Authorities expressed concerns about a possible asbestos exposure.

“Several blocks in the area shut down spanning from East 42nd street all the way to East 57th,” local media reports.


“The following street closures are highlighted on the map. Please avoid the area. Expect delays so plan accordingly and utilize alternate routes,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Philip Rivera said.

NBC New York reports:

The steam line issue started as a leak at East 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue around 2 a.m., according to the Department of Emergency Management. The situation continued to worsen before it was capped around 6:45 a.m., emergency officials said.


Some streets in the area are closed, including 1st Avenue to Lexington Avenue from 51st Street to 54th Street and 51st Street to 54th Street from 1st Avenue to Lexington Avenue. Police also weren’t allowing people to enter the area, several New Yorkers attempting to get to work told NBC New York.

While emergency crews were evaluating the area, the FDNY said residents were being asked to shelter in place in their apartments. Con Edison advised residents to close their windows and for the public to stay clear of the area around East 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue.

First responders are providing escorts for residents to safely leave the area, according to the Department of Emergency Management.

“Con Edison is responding to a release of steam at East 52nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan. The company is coordinating with New York City Emergency Management and other agencies,” Con Edison said in a statement.

“Con Edison crews shut down a portion of a steam main in response to the release. Environmental testing for possible asbestos is being conducted in the affected area, which includes East 51st Street from 2nd Avenue to 3rd Avenue and East 52nd and East 53 Streets from 2nd Avenue to Park Avenue. NYCEM advises residents of the area to shelter in place and other members of the public to stay clear of the affected area for safety reasons,” the statement added.

According to CBS News, preliminary tests indicated no signs of elevated asbestos levels.

Per CBS News:

There was a major disruption Wednesday to traffic, residents and the city’s steam system, which is the largest in the country, after a steam pipe ruptured, raising concerns there could be asbestos in the air.

Crews have been working on the issue all day.

The focus for investigators has been getting to the bottom of air quality concerns and figuring out the cause.

Wednesday evening, Mayor Eric Adams said preliminary tests showed no indication of elevated levels of asbestos in the are.

White smoke could be seen shooting from the street at Second Avenue and East 52nd Street resulting in the shutdown of several city blocks with a massive response.

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