FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 27, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION RELATING TO THE NOTIFICATION AND REPORTING OF THE POSSIBLE PRESENCE OF PCBs IN CITY SCHOOL BUILDINGS
Remarks by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
"The final two bills before me today relate to the notification and reporting of information relating to the possible presence of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in our City's school buildings.
"By way of background, between 1950 and 1978, PCBs were legally used in fluorescent light ballasts and other common construction materials in buildings throughout the country, including in our City's schools. In 1978, the federal government banned the manufacture of the substance, although it allowed certain equipment like the lighting ballasts to remain in use.
"For the past several years, the City has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the issue of PCBs in schools, and is currently undertaking the first and only pilot study of its kind to evaluate the presence of PCBs in schools. In addition, earlier this year, our Administration announced a wholesale effort to improve energy efficiency and environmental quality in more than seven hundred schools, including the removal of all lighting fixtures that may contain PCBs throughout the entire school system.
"Upon its completion, the Comprehensive Plan: Greener, Healthier Schools for the 21st Century will not only eliminate lighting fixtures using PCB ballasts from City schools, but will also result in energy savings of $95 million every year, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 200,000 metric tons per year - the equivalent of removing more than 40,000 cars from the road.
"The two bills before me today seek to provide parents, teachers, and all members of our school communities with information relating to the potential presence of PCBs in lighting fixtures in certain schools, as well as the City's plans to upgrade the lighting in those schools. These bills would codify into law many of the Department of Education's current practices and protocols of notifying parents and school communities about PCBs and lighting fixture replacements. The City also has a dedicated web site on this issue, which contains both general and school specific information, and members of the public can sign up for regular updates.
"The first bill, Introductory Number 563-A, is sponsored by Council Members Ignizio, Levin, Greenfield, Arroyo, Brewer, Cabrera, Chin, Dickens, Dromm, Ferreras, Fidler, Gentile, Koslowitz, Lander, Mendez, Palma, Rose, Sanders, Seabrook, Van Bramer, Vann, Williams, Vallone, Nelson, Foster, Vacca, Mark-Viverito, Garodnick, James, Barron, Jackson, Rodriguez, Eugene, Lappin, Weprin, Halloran, Koo, Oddo, Ulrich, Weprin, Crowley and Gennaro. This legislation requires the Department of Education to notify members of the school community affiliated with a school that has been tested for PCBs that testing has occurred, as well as whether that school has been determined to have lighting fixtures that contain PCBs in them. It also requires the Department of Education to notify those school communities that are part of the City's comprehensive plan of the status of the plan.
"The second bill, Introductory Number 566-A, is sponsored by Council Members Levin, Ignizio, Arroyo, Brewer, Dickens, Dromm, Ferreras, Fidler, Lander, Mendez, Palma, Rose, Seabrook, Van Bramer, Vann, Williams, Vallone, Vacca, Wills, Chin, Nelson, Jackson, Garodnick, Rodriguez, Eugene, Lappin, Weprin, Halloran, Koo, Ulrich, Weprin, Barron, Crowley, Gennaro and Oddo. This bill requires the Department of Education to report to the City Council and on its web site information with an update on the Comprehensive Plan and other PCB-related programs.
"Armed with this information, parents, teachers, school administrators and others will be able to continue to track the steps the Department of Education is taking to improve the environment in which our City's 1.1 million public school students learn and grow.
"I would like to thank Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo, Health Commissioner Tom Farley, and Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Edna Wells-Handy and their staff for their work on these bills along with my Office of City Legislative Affairs. I would also like to thank the Council for approving this legislation."
Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958
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