Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
The corrosive effect of salt water is being blamed for damage to infrastructure in the aftermath of Sandy - - from the subway lines in Manhattan, to the Seaside boardwalk in New Jersey. WNYC's Janet Babin reports, property owners there were warned that equipment submerged in salt water should be replaced.
She says, "We do know that New Jersey issued a letter to everyone affected by the storm a few months after the storm, that gave guidance for what to do with electrical systems in the aftermath of Sandy and that letter said any equipment or receptacles that were submerged did have to be replaced within 90 days."
It's still unclear who was responsible for replacing the wires underneath Kohr's Frozen Custard, where the Seaside fire started. On its Facebook page, the shop's owner wrote that it does not own the building but rents that space from Biscayne Candies. That company hasn't returned our call for comment. The prosecutor who investigated the fire didn't blame the custard stand. He says electrical lines under the shop were inaccessible because of sand built up underneath the boardwalk.
Licensed electrical contractor Rocco Compitello says once salt water gets into wires, it can have a much worse effect than regular water - slowly corroding copper and aluminum.
"That's how oxidation works. It's like rust on your car for instance - you may see a little spot, and over time you may see rusting, and eventually it's gonna rust thru. That's the same way with wire."
Compitello is urging property owners whose electrical wiring was submerged during Sandy, to replace it.