Parents Protest PCBs In NYC Schools At City Hall, Want Quicker Removal Of Chemicals

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Chanting “No more PCBs,” angry parents showed up at City Hall to protest PCB problems in city schools. Some lawyers also announced they planned to file a lawsuit against New York City over the issue.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

City officials announced a 10-year plan in February to replace the aging fluorescent lights, but community groups and politicians think the plan is way too slow. The lighting fixtures can leak PCBs over time.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler says the city is dragging its feet.

“Throw it under the rug,” he said. “Don’t tell the parents and maybe they won’t put the pressure on city hall to stop the threat to the lives and health of our kids, that’s what this is really about.”

In a statement from the Department of Education, communications director Natalie Ravitz argued that “PCBs are in no way unique to New York City,” adding that it was ” inappropriate that politicians are attempting to scare parents with shoddy information gained by people trespassing into schools and doing unscientific tests.”

The statement went on to say that despite the absence of a federal plan, “NYC has embarked on an unprecedented effort, devoting nearly $800 million in city resources toward addressing PCBs in our public schools by replacing old light fixtures.”

Miranda Massey of Lawyers for the Public Interest said they plan to sue to force the city to remove the troubling fixtures.

“These are all serious violations of federal law,” said Massey.

Bronx parent Michelle Chapman said they have a right to know and protect their children.

“We need to know the type of environment we’re sending them to,” she said.

Ravitz said the 10-year plan is responsible and will cause minimum disruption. The DOE recently relocated students at P.S. 51 in the Bronx because of high PCB levels and plans to expedite reviews in 31 other schools.

PCBs are suspected of causing cancer and other diseases.

What do you think? Are you worried about PCBs in city schools? Sound off below in our comments section…

  • Jim Okun

    Parents who are concerned about environmental contaminants in schools should first check on risks from asbestos, radon and lead, all far more hazardous than PCBs. Then they should consider risks from all of these in their homes. Do any of the parents protesting PCBs have asbestos covered boilers in their buildings? How about old lead solder joints in their plumbing? Or do they know what the level of radon is in their homes? Any of these conditions could pose thousands of times more risk than PCBs in schools.

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