After reporting on Monday that they found the highest levels yet of PCBs in a New York City school, the EPA announced Tuesday morning that they will be suspending inspections since the city unveiled a plan last week to replace all leaking light fixtures. The tests at P.S. 306 in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn revealed levels of PCBs higher than the legal 50 parts per million — much higher. In one classroom, the ballasts were leaking pure product: oil with one million parts per million.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the EPA does not have any more inspections planned in the near future, but the agency reserves its right to inspect at any time. City officials said that the first lighting ballasts to be replaced are those that have tested positive for PCBs.
As we reported last week, parents and politicians think that Bloomberg’s plan is not sufficient. Miranda K. Massie, director of litigation and training for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which has been working with parents on the PCB issue, told the New York Times that the work could be done quicker. “The work can be completed in two years if they decided to make it a priority,” said Massie. “There’s no reason to subject schoolchildren to PCBs contamination for an extra eight years.”
You can view the results of the EPA’s PCB testing here. The EPA also provides detailed information on what school administrators and maintenance staff should do. If you’re a parent concerned about PCBs in your child’s school, you can join the PCB-Free NYC Schools Parent Coalition, which is working with the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. They are still working to speed up the removal process. You can contact the NYLPI Senior Staff Attorney Miranda Massie at firstname.lastname@example.org or community organizer Gigi Gazón at email@example.com. They can both be reached by phone at 212-244-4664.
For background on New York City’s PCB issue, see our previous articles: