Photo: Christine Schmidt
Though it might sound like something you’d read in the Onion, one MTA board member has expressed concern about the threat of electric eels to the forthcoming 7 train line extension. According to DNAInfo, Charles Moerdler is putting aside research that contradicts his beliefs, and is pushing for the MTA to use plastic piping as an alternative to metal, brass or iron in an effort to avoid potential damage due to the electrified fishes. Years ago, Moerdler was an attorney who represented the Javits Center when it was first being built, and says that a mandatory environmental review revealed evidence of electric eels living in the Hudson River at that time. In that case, Moerdler was granted a rare waiver that allowed the Javits Center to use plastic piping instead of metal, but could the same claim be valid for the 7 line?
Chris Bowser, the eel project coordinator at the Hudson River Eel Project and a science educator for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, doesn’t think so. “I can tell you definitively there are no electric eels in New York City,” he told DNAInfo.
Bowser argues that electric eels, fresh water dwellers, could never survive in the Hudson River nor are they equipped for New York winters. On the flip side, Bowser does admit that non-electric eels live in the river and are frequently mistaken to be electric. Though they can accidentally slip into the pipeline, there is no posed risk of damage to the piping.
DNAinfo asked MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg whether they’d take Moerdler’s warnings into account, to which he answered, “No.”