Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) praised the decision by U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson to reject the City's efforts to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at expediting the removal of PCB-contaminated light fixtures from over 650 New York City public schools. The decision now clears the way for the lawsuit against the City to go to trial.
"This is an important victory," said Nadler, "because it reinforces our position that it is wrong to unnecessarily delay the remediation of dangerous PCBs in our schools. This court ruling makes clear that the City must stop delaying its efforts to address the very serious health risk posed by PCBs to our children, teachers, and school staff."
For years, Rep. Nadler has worked alongside parents, advocates, and elected officials to urge the City to quickly remove these dangerous chemicals from our schools. Nadler has called for the City to test and remediate its public schools for PCBs in 2 to 5 years --a position supported by EPA--not the 10 years proposed by the City. In his decision, Judge Johnson wrote that, even "in the face of the dangers of PCBs," it is apparent that "the City just does not want to remediate expeditiously or be overseen by either the EPA or by a court of law." He adds that "the Court will not begrudge the City its right to zealous advocacy, but neither will the Court abide the City's insouciant foot-dragging, which, in the end, is all that can be said for its position."
EPA inspections of public schools throughout the City have turned up PCB leaks in light fixtures as well as toxic air levels. At one school in Brooklyn, the EPA found that all 19 inspected fixtures had high levels of PCBs, with some more than 10,000 times the federal threshold for removal.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a suspected carcinogen, as well as a known fertility toxin and neurotoxin, making exposure for children and women of reproductive age particularly dangerous. They have been known to cause cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and cognitive disabilities. In children, this problem is more acute, with long-term exposure associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), increased aggression, and cognitive disabilities.