US Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Senator Tom Duane, New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer today celebrated the New York City Department of Education's (DOE) agreement to heed their and the P.S. 199 Parent Teacher Association's (PTA) call for comprehensive testing and remediation of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at the school, located at 270 West 70th Street in Manhattan.
Earlier this year, the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) conducted a window replacement project at the school, which involved the removal of PCB-laden window caulk. The SCA contractor did not follow state protocols for work involving PCBs, raising concerns about safety. Subsequent testing of the school and its perimeter indicated that the environment was contaminated with PCBs, and remained so despite an emergency clean-up conducted by SCA. Studies have linked the toxin to a wide range of adverse health and developmental effects and children are known to be particularly vulnerable.
On June 2, 2008, DOE Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm sent a letter to P.S. 199 PTA Co-Presidents Johanna Hampton and Sharon Lustig outlining a comprehensive plan for PCB testing and remediation that was initiated later that evening and will be completed before school resumes in September.
"With this new commitment to a thorough cleanup and testing regimen at the school, I am hopeful that once again parents will have the basic comfort of knowing their kids are safe when they get dropped off at school," said Rep. Nadler. "We will remain vigilant to ensure that these plans are implemented carefully and comprehensively."
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and parents must feel confident that our public school system is working in their best interest," said Borough President Stringer. "There is no such thing as too safe &ndash especially when it comes to the welfare of our children &ndash and the DOE has taken a huge step forward to safeguard against further PCB contamination with their proposed plan. I look forward to seeing the results by the next school year."
"I am pleased that DOE and SCA recognize the legitimacy of the P.S. 199 PTA's concerns," said Senator Duane. "The decision to eliminate any and all risk of PCB contamination at P.S. 199 demonstrates their commitment to the health and safety of our children."
"I am thankful and relieved that the Department of Education is finally taking PCBs at Public School 199 seriously-PCBs pose a serious health risk and the DOE should be taking all precautions to safeguard our children from this toxin. I will continue to work with parents, the DOE, and the EPA to ensure that our public schools are safe," said Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.
"The Department of Education is to be commended for ultimately doing the right thing in this situation. When it comes to children's safety, certainty, not probability, is the standard," said Councilmember Gale Brewer. "My fellow elected officials and I will remain vigilant to assure that the proper testing and cleaning is done."