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A contractor hired by the MTA to do maintenance work in Sunnyside accidentally drilled a hole into the Buckeye Pipeline, which sits 4 feet below street level and brings 8 million gallons of fuel and refined petroleum into the city daily.
The hole in the 12-inch pipe triggered an automatic shutdown of the system as firefighters raced to the corner of Skillman Avenue and 37th Street to spray flame-retardant foam upon fuel that escaped.
“That could have blown up the whole block,” said Richard Smith, 61, who works at a nearby auto shop.
Four people were busted two years ago for scheming to blow up the pipeline to JFK and LaGuardia airports.
The spill did not affect operations at either airport, a Port Authority spokesman said.