Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bloomberg: Who Cares About PCBs?

New name for the Bloombergian reform movement - PCBs First!

New York has been resisting federal pressure to remove old lighting ballasts containing the toxin from 740 schools built between 1950 and 1978, when PCBs were legal to use in their construction.

In a letter this month, the EPA demanded that the fixtures be removed and a plan made for taking out PCB-riddled caulking found in school windows and door frames.

"There is positively no excuse for taking chances with the well-being of hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren," said Nadler.

"The EPA has responded firmly to the city's failure to act quickly."

The EPA says prolonged exposure to the toxin can cause brain damage to students and their teachers.

"Despite the fact that these ballasts are in schools and buildings around the country, New York City is the only school district in the nation that the EPA is threatening with an enormous unfunded mandate," said Natalie Ravitz, spokeswoman for the city Department of Education, noting the cleanup would cost $1.18 billion.

The city has no plans for a full-scale remediation until it completes a field test it began in five schools last year. The test is the product of a lawsuit filed by Bronx mom Naomi Gonzalez against the city after her children were denied a transfer from Public School 178 in Co-op City - once tainted with dangerous levels of PCBs.

"I think it's reprehensible that the city is not moving quickly on this," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) who will be introducing similar legislation in Albany next session.

"We have to acknowledge this is an issue, and put our heads together to figure out how to pay for this."

Hey - maybe cancel a no-bid testing contract to McGraw-Hill or Pearson and use the money from that to pay for PCB removal?

Nahh - what's a little brain damage to students and teachers from PCBs?

Children First, my ass.

Test Prep First, everything else - including the safety of students and staff, maybe even especially the safety of students and staff - last.

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