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State Regulators: East Harlem Explosion Caused By Improperly Installed Gas Pipeline

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- State regulators have found that Con Edison failed to properly install a gas pipeline that led to a massive explosion in East Harlem last year.

The New York State Public Service Commission said a Department of Public Service report found a gas pipe wasn't adequately protected at a certain joint, which gave way under stress from eroding soil underneath it and road asphalt above it.

As WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported, the report also said regulators found the utility failed to call for FDNY backup after receiving two reports of a gas odor near the Park Avenue building.

The sudden explosion rocked the neighborhood on March 12, 2014 about 15 minutes after someone reported smelling gas in a nearby building, authorities said. Eight people were killed and more than 60 people were injured.

Now, Con Ed could face fines and legal action, Diamond reported.

PHOTOS: East Harlem Explosion | The Day After

In response, Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin said changes have been made.

"They involve monthly gas patrols throughout our system, a very enhanced public safety awareness campaign," said Clendenin.

The Public Service Commission found a contributing factor in the blast was the undermining of Con Ed's gas line by an unrepaired city sewer line.

"We believe that the undermining in the street brought on by the sewer breech actually resulted in a crack to a new plastic fitting that was in the ground, and that was the source of the leak," said Clendenin.

The report's findings are similar to those released this summer by the National Transportation Safety Board.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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