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Staten Island School Found to Have Elevated PCB Levels

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Staten Island elementary school has been found to have elevated levels of PCBs. In a letter Friday to Teachers Union President Michael Mulgrew, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott said as a precaution, two classrooms in PS 36 had been closed and the affected materials removed until air testing could be conducted this weekend.

Miranda Massie of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest told WNYC that preliminary tests on floor tiles, contaminated by a PCB spill from a light fixture, measured PCB levels between 1,000 and 12,000 parts per million.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers the safe level to be no more than 50 parts per million. Mulgrew, Staten Island Councilman Vinny Ignizio and other advocates want PS 36 closed until its safety can be guaranteed. 

But Deputy Mayor Walcott said after consulting with City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, education officials did not believe that it was necessary until the results of the air testing are known. Walcott said city officials would meet with parents and staff early this week.

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Comments [1]

Robert L from Westchester County

Our company retrofits this type of lighting system and our crews occasionally find leaking oil-filled ballasts in older facilities. These ballasts are typically associated with linear fluorescent tubes (4 feet or 8 feet long) with 1.5 inch diameters (T-12). The cost to remediate these (including re-cycling of the oil-filled ballasts and old lamps) is very low and may be heavily subsidized by electric utilities because the technology is inherently energy inefficient. Public schools have been and continue to be offered grants and subsidies to replace this lighting to a point where postponing remediation is irresponsible, to the detriment of the public interest.

Jan. 10 2011 01:40 PM

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