DOE Ups Spending On PCBs
City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and members of the Council’s Education and Environmental Protection committees announced an agreement with the Department of Education on Wednesday that will expedite the removal of polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, within the next three years as part of the overall plan to increase energy efficiency and environmental quality in New York City schools.
Several of Rockaway’s older schools, including Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway and Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Beach, have been shown to be impacted by the cancer causing agents.
The agreement reallocates $30 million from the technology budget of the DOE’s Five-Year Capital Plan to be used specifically for replacement of school lighting fixtures that contain PCBs. This funding will supplement the $141 million added to the capital plan to finance the Department’s energy efficiency plan called ‘NYC Schools Comprehensive Plan: Greener, Healthier Schools for the 21st Century.’ This comprehensive plan will increase the energy efficiency and replace PCBcontaining light fixtures at 772 schools.
The DOE’s Five-Year Capital plan includes support for the first three years of an energy efficiency program. With the additional $30 million the DOE should be able to remove PCB containing fixtures from at least 30 more schools than the 180 schools initially targeted for upgrades.
“This funding will allow us to eliminate the potential effects of PCBs in more schools while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Quinn. “We should always err on the side of caution when addressing health matters pertaining to children in our schools and I want to thank Chancellor Walcott, my Council colleagues and the DOE for working diligently on this important issue for our children.”
“This agreement represents our continued investment in our schools as well as our commitment as a City to remain a national leader on environmental concerns,” said School Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “We appreciate the Council’s support as we move forward with the most ambitious and aggressive program in the country to address the issue of PCBs in school buildings.”
“It is important for parents to feel assured that their children are in a safe environment,” said Councilmember Robert Jackson, chair of the Education Committee. “This reallocation in funding will help address the health and safety concerns of our teachers, administrators and students. I thank the Speaker for her leadership on this issue, my colleagues and the DOE for coming up with a solution that is in the best interest of the city’s school kids.”
“The City Council and Department of Education’s work in securing additional funds to clean up the PCBs present in New York City schools is a positive step toward ensuring the health and safety of our children. EDF will continue to work with the City Council and the Administration to find solutions to these and other environmental health issues,” said Mary Barber, campaign director for Environmental Defense Fund.