Lube Blows at Substation


A mineral oil based lubricant used as a coolant ignited at a Con Edison substation in Yonkers, N.Y., Saturday, causing two explosions and a blaze that took firefighters from 13 city fire companies about 90 minutes to extinguish.

The incident occurred between 10 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the substation in the Dunwoodie neighborhood of Yonkers, according to Con Edison spokesman Chris Olert. It was a fire in a pump house, Olert told Lube Report. We have these cooling pump houses in locations around the system.

Con Edison considers the fire a freak incident, he said, noting that the mineral-based oil – known as transmission feeder oil – is a fairly stable lubricant used to cool power transmission feeders, which are large cables. The explosions at the plant occurred when the transmission feeder oil exceeded its flash point, Olert added.

Weve got a team thats checking into the cause, he stated. Theres a possibility some electrical problem within the pump house caused the fire, but we havent confirmed that yet.

At least 24 of 65 firefighters who responded to the fire had to undergo decontamination because they were soaked by oil from the substation, White Plains, N.Y.-based The Journal News web site reported on Sunday.

A few years ago we changed all of our PCB-laden oil, so this is a mineral oil, Con Eds Olert pointed out to Lube Report, adding that the power company conducts tests after any oil-related incident. Our tests showed just 2 parts per million PCBs. Fifty parts per million is the threshold, so that tiny amount is insignificant.

No oil escaped the site, which has a containment system, he added.

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