Congressmen José E. Serrano, Joseph Crowley and Jerrold Nadler today applauded the settlement that was announced today in a lawsuit that New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and New York Communities for Change had pursued in order to force the New York City Department of Education to speed up its replacement of PCB-laden fixtures in schools. Under the terms of the settlement, the City will complete the removal and remediation of the toxic fixtures within five years. Serrano, Crowley, and Nadler have led efforts to address the issue since the first reports of PCBs in New York City schools in 2007.
"The 10 year timeframe that the City had proposed for cleaning up these toxic chemicals was contemptible, but today's settlement will finally move the clean up process forward in an expeditious manner," said Congressman Serrano. "We've said all along that no child should be exposed to PCBs during their school days. Even one day of exposure is unacceptable. Joe Crowley, Jerry Nadler and I did all we could to solve this problem from the federal level. In the end, it took a determined group of parents and a crack legal team to break the logjam that the City had created. I applaud everyone involved and know that many parents will sleep better tonight knowing that their children will be safe from chemicals at school."
"The very real dangers of harmful toxins in our classrooms make urgent action on PCBs a top priority and I'm pleased that with this settlement, the clean-up process can finally move forward," said Congressman Crowley. "Parents should never have to question if the school where their children spend their days might actually make their children sick. That's why Congressman Serrano, Congressman Nadler, and I made this issue a top priority and are thankful to all those determined parents and advocates who made today possible."
"I believe that we are truly seeing justice done in this settlement," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "The City's ten year timeframe placed hundreds of vulnerable schoolchildren and staff at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals, and was--in a word--unacceptable. As I have been saying for years, along with parents, school staff, advocates and my elected colleagues, PCBs are dangerous and must be remediated as soon as humanly possible. Thanks to the strong legal advocacy of NYLPI and White and Case, and the grassroots organizing of NYCC, the City must finally recognize the urgency of the situation and act with the necessary speed."
Serrano, Crowley and Nadler have led efforts to help schools in New York City and throughout the country fund the cleanup of PCBs, particularly through efforts to allow school modernization and renovation funds to be used for cleaning up PCBs. In 2009, Crowley and Serrano secured language in the FY2010 Interior appropriations bill that instructed the EPA to study and issue recommendations for cleaning up PCB contamination in schools and in August 2011, called on the EPA for an update on these instructions to address the danger of PCBs in schools. The Members also led a New York City congressional delegation letter to the EPA asking the agency to increase oversight of New York City testing and remediation of schools for PCBs.