City Has Faced Much Criticism Over Its 10-Year Plan To Clean Up PCBs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Parents of students at a Cobble Hill school are upset after a light fixture smoldered and erupted in smoke.

On Thursday, a light fixture at P.S. 368 sizzled and then erupted, sending smoke into the air and autistic students scrambling out of the building, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.

“At first it was upsetting and frightening because the odor grew stronger and stronger, but once the light actually blew it was even worse because once the smoke started coming it didn’t stop,” said Celia Green, the mother of a 15-year-old student.

The Department of Education said the fixture was in an administration office that was closed and no students were in the room at the time.

The city has faced much criticism over its 10-year plan to clean up PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) which may be leaking from faulty light fixtures in hundreds of city schools.

PCBs were used in the insulating oil of ballasts in older fluorescent light fixtures. New York City school buildings used such lights from 1950 to 1978. PCBs were also used in construction material until 1979 when they were banned, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Exposure can lead to numerous health risks including respiratory issues, reproductive problems and even cancer, according to the EPA.

The latest incident has prompted parents to renew calls that the city speed up the removal of PCB-laden fixtures.

“We demand that they mayor and the chancellor step up to the plate,” Green said. “Remove them here and begin a two to five year process as opposed to a 10-year process.”

The city said they’re going as quickly as they can to clean things up, Schuck reported.

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