Parent Group Wants More Information About PCB Leaks in Schools

Some New York City parent activists are calling on the Department of Education to provide more information about the location of PCB leaks in hundreds of public schools.

"So we'll know whether our children are walking into a safe environment, or an environment where they're breathing in toxins that will eventually follow them through their entire lives," said Michelle Chapman with the group New York Communities for Change, speaking at a rally outside City Hall on Wednesday on the day before New York City students return to public schools.

The DOE has given out a list of almost 800 school buildings that have older lighting fixtures containing the toxic chemical, which can leak into the air.

"It's an absolute no-brainer to replace all of these old fixtures," said Miranda Massie with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, who is representing the parent group. "And at an absolute minimum it's a moral imperative to let parents know if their children are being exposed to risk by your own negligence."

New York Communities for Change, formerly known as Acorn, has filed a federal lawsuit to force the city to fix the lighting fixtures in 2-3 years.

But Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that's not a realistic time line, and that the city is spending $800 million to fix the lights as quickly as possible.

"We have a very aggressive 10-year plan," he said, "and we're the only district in the entire country doing this. So we're remediating, and when we find an actual leak, we'll get there right away and correct that."

Walcott said any time a leak is found parents will be notified. He said there's no need for legislation requiring such disclosure.

The City Council is set to hold a hearing this fall on a bill that would require the DOE to post information about any leaks on its website.