No Injuries to NYU Students, Staff Or Faculty At approximately 7:00 am, a steam pipe ruptured just west of NYU’s Bobst Library, which is at the corner of Washington Square South and LaGuardia Place.

This was an unlucky circumstance that happened in the luckiest possible way: there were no injuries to NYU students, staff or faculty. Two arriving police officers received only minor injuries: apparently the noise of the escaping steam caused them pain in their ears.

Classes have not yet started at the University, and the library was shut at the time. No NYU students or faculty were inside the library; only a cleaning crew was in the building, and they were uninjured. With the exception of library operations and the administrative offices based in the library, all University operations are continuing as normal, including our freshman orientation.

The Bobst Library has been closed for the day; University employees who work in Bobst have been sent home for the day. They should check with NYU’s Info Line – 212-998-1220 – before coming to work tomorrow

Although we have not been able to do a survey of the library yet, it is our hope that damage will be slight. None of the University’s rare or precious documents were in the affected area, which would appear to be limited to the two lower floors of the library.

The steam pipe would appear to be an NYU steam pipe. NYU operates its own co-generation plant, providing some of its electricity, steam and hot-water needs to its buildings. While the plant continues normal operation, heat and hot water have been shut off to University buildings near the site.

City agencies have informed the University that residue from the steam leak contained traces of asbestos, which was used on pipes installed prior to the mid-1970’s as insulation. The University will be conducting tests inside the library and will work with the proper agencies to insure a quick, proper and safe clean-up. As a precautionary measure, the cleaning crew in the library at the time went through a decontamination procedure; no other members of the NYU community are believed to have had even the prospect of exposure to the steam.

The University is grateful for the swift and capable response by the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and other city agencies. We will work closely with them on determining the cause and the appropriate next steps.

Parents or others having questions about the pipe rupture can call 212-998-6840.

Press Contact

John Beckman
John Beckman
(212) 998-6848