PCB leak worries at Queens school - New York News

PCB leak worries at Queens school

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A PCB leak at a school in Long Island City has parents and local leaders outraged. They gathered outside IS 204 on Tuesday morning to draw attention to the matter.

The Dept. of Education says it will take approximately nine years to replace the lights at IS 204 and the 800 or so schools within the New York City school system that have the potentially dangerous liquid.

Polychlorinated Biphenyl -- a thin, light-colored liquid or a yellow or black waxy solid-- were banned in 1979 for their potential toxicity, according the Environmental Protection Agency.

At least two schools have reported leaks of the toxin since the start of the school year.

At IS 204, a school located in a low-income community, a PCB leak reportedly contaminated the desk of a guidance counselor and the floor below.

At P.S. 41, PCB leaked from a light fixture onto the desk of a fifth grade student while at her desk.

According to several local leaders, the Dept. of Education replaced the leaking light fixture within days at the school in New Dorp, Staten Island.

The DOE issued a statement Tuesday:

"We will begin a survey at PS 204 in Queens immediately and will begin to order fixtures. While some people think we should spend more and do this faster, we continue to believe this is an aggressive, environmentally responsible plan that will cause minimum disruption to student learning and generate significant energy savings for the City and taxpayers in the long run."

Parents of IS 204 students say the DOE should work faster to safeguard their children from the toxin.

"I think they can do this a lot sooner than they're doing it. I'm concerned about her education and health," the mother of a young girl told reporters outside the school.

According to DOE public testimony, the total cost of replacing the PCB lights is approximately $320 million. 

"(It's) not a lot of money when it comes to protecting our children, our valued teachers and administrative staff, said Christina Giorgio, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

 

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