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New York Subway Project May Be Threatened by Electric Eels… Wait, What?

Electric Eel

Between traffic, crowds, and inane drive-time DJs, you might think nothing could make your commute worse. Think again. According to an officer of the New York subway system, a planned train line extension in the city could be plagued by an unexpected menace — electric eels. Just how the eels would get to New York from their mostly tropical homes remains a mystery, but as someone who rides the New York subway every day, I can confirm that it wouldn’t really surprise anyone.

In an interview with DNAinfo, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) board member Charles Moerdler expressed concern that metal pipes being used in the extension of the subway’s 7 line could be damaged by eels slithering in from the Hudson River and discharging electric shocks nearby. Moerdler told DNAinfo that the eels were a concern decades ago when the Javits Center — for which Moerdler was an attorney at the time — was being built on New York’s west side, and those concerns are the reason the area has plastic, not metal, piping. Says Moerdler:

“When the tide washed in, the electric eels would come in alongside the area where the convention center was and that they could cause havoc with any brass, copper or iron piping because they discharge electricity.”

There is, of course, just one problem with this claim: though the Hudson River is lousy with eels, none of them are of the “electric” variety. While electric eels are native to tropical climes, all of New York’s eels are lame, and couldn’t deliver an incapacitating shock if they wanted to. There are a couple electric eels in New York, but considering they’re safely confined to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, it’s hard to see exactly what threat they could pose to the city’s infrastructure.

Despite the problems they could pose to piping, electric eels could actually be a welcome addition to New York’s many tunnels, canals, and sewers. After all, a few eels may be just the ticket to bring the city’s infamous sewer gators under control. Well, sewer caimans, anyway.

Of course, it’s possible the reporter on the scene just misheard Moerdler. Maybe he had just seen images of Jamie Foxx making the rounds of Times Square in his makeup for the new Spider-Man movie and was concerned about the damage that Electro could do to the new train line. Which, to be fair, is 100% reasonable.

(via  DNAinfo, image courtesy of flickr)

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