NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Comptroller John Liu wants the Department of Education to speed up the process of cleaning up toxic chemicals, known as Polychlorinated Biphenyls, from old light fixtures in city schools.
Liu has proposed issuing Green Apple Bonds to complete remediation by 2015 — six years ahead of the city’s schedule. He said the current 10 year plan to eradicate the chemical is unacceptable.
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“That the DOE ignores parent concerns for the health of their children does not, unfortunately, come as a surprise. It is, however, mind-boggling that the DOE would ignore the formal warnings issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about PCBs,” Liu said in a statement. “Our students should learn about PCBs in class, but through their textbooks, not through firsthand exposure.”
It’s the same goal as Christina Giorgio, who’s suing the city on behalf of concerned parents.
“Parents should not be forced to send their children to schools where overhead light fixtures threaten to ooze toxic juice at any given time,” she said.
Back in September, PCBs leaked from a light fixture onto a guidance counselor’s desk at I.S. 204 in Long Island City.
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The toxic chemical also leaked out of a light fixture and onto a 10-year-old girl’s desk and clothes at P.S. 41 in the New Dorp section of Staten Island.
Liu said the Green Apple Bonds will not only speed up the process, but also save the city $339 million.
More than 772 schools have been targeted for PCB clean up. So far, fixtures have been replaced in at least 83 schools.
PCBs are used to cool old fluorescent lights. They were also used in construction material until 1979 when they were banned.
According to the EPA, exposure can lead to numerous health risks including respiratory issues, reproductive problems and even cancer.
The DOE has said its plan is environmentally responsible and will wind up being cost-effective in the long run.
“The City has committed $838 million over the next 10 years to replace the fixtures and make our school buildings more energy efficient. The City is already on track to meet our goals, having already completed work in 151 schools and are currently working 196 schools,” the DOE said in a statement.
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