New York MTA veteran warns of lack of preparation

A 25-year New York Metropolitan Transit Authority veteran recently filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court claiming that the MTA was not prepared to handle a mass casualty evacuation, which would occur in the case of a bioterror or other CBRN attack.

Peter Nichik, who filed the suit, claims there is a rampant problem that the judge needs to correct by ordering the transit agency to fix potentially lethal conditions, according to the NY Post.

Nichik alleges that the anti-crime gates that allow authorities to close off alternate entrances and exits to the subway stations during certain times of day are padlocked while open, meaning that anyone who wishes can lock them up using their own equipment.

"These conditions present a significant danger to the riding public and [MTA] employees in the event of a situation requiring rapid evacuation or emergency response and rescue," Clare Norins, Nichik’s lawyer said, the NY Post reports. "The defects continue to exist unabated in many NYC subway stations."

The MTA, for its part, says that the problem has already been taken care of.

"We have had a procedure in place since 2008 to survey all station entrances to make certain that 24 hour security gates are padlocked in the open position," spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the NY Post. "As a result, we secured all entrances with new padlocks and chains and began a regular inspection cycle to insure compliance."

Ortiz said that the MTA’s Inspector General has conducted inspections and found the system to be in compliance. Regardless, the NY Post reports it spotted an open gate without a padlock on November 15.

Nichik, a former superintendent in the Division of Station Operations, first brought the breach to the MTA in August 2007. He says that since then ,he has faced a hostile working environment and suffered from suspension and demotion.