Tag Archives: pcbs

Environmental Protection Agency to hold public meetings on PCB removal at schools

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Officials announced a public meeting in Jamaica to discuss the city’s proposed citywide remediation plan to remove the potentially toxic Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from light fixtures and caulk at public schools.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will collect feedback from the community on the remediation plan throughout the five boroughs before making its recommendations at the end of the month.

The meeting in Queens will be held at 6:30 pm. on Thursday at the Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School, located at 160-20 Goethals Ave.



OpEd: PCBs and Overcrowding in Schools Point to a Larger Problem

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Recent reports of a leak of a highly toxic chemical compound, PCB, in a Queens school and of continued, severe overcrowding in many of the borough’s schools have no doubt caused concern among some Queens parents.

Parents and other members of the public should know that these issues are symptoms of a larger problem. New York City spends far less on its school facilities than other large urban districts in the U.S., according to a new report, “Not Making the Grade: The Growing Crisis in New York City’s Public School Facilities,” produced by two school workers’ unions, 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union and Local 94 of the International Union of Operation Engineers.

Children’s achievement in school, as well as their health, depends on school facilities providing safe, sanitary environments conducive to learning. Research shows, for example, that children attending schools in subpar condition score lower on standardized tests. But New York City has in recent years slashed the budget for school maintenance and operations by more than $50 million. The city now spends a mere three percent of its overall education budget on facilities, a third or less than the amount spent by other large urban districts such as Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas.

The city’s failure to place a higher priority on the condition of its school facilities is apparent in continued school overcrowding, which is most severe in Queens and Staten Island. It is also evident in the city’s slow response to the threat posed by PCB-contaminated or potentially contaminated light fixtures and building caulk in schools around the city.

This inadequate funding of school facilities is shortsighted and possibly dangerous. PCBs are a banned toxin known to cause cancer and hinder children’s neurological and cognitive development. Delays in removing light fixtures potentially contaminated with PCBs from classrooms, cafeterias and guidance offices may pose an unacceptable and unnecessary risk to our children, teachers and other school staff, including the janitorial workers who clean our schools every day.

Cuts to school custodial budgets also risk costing taxpayers more down the road because postponing maintenance and repairs now can lead to the need for pricier repairs later. Overcrowding can similarly drive up future costs by increasing the daily wear and tear on school buildings.

Also hit hard by the inadequate funding for school facilities are the men and women who work hard every day to keep our school buildings clean, sanitary and running well. New York City’s schools have 5,000 cleaners represented by 32BJ and 1,000 engineers represented by Local 94. As city funding cuts have forced schools to significantly reduce custodial staffs and supplies, the workers who remain are struggling to keep schools up to par with below-par resources. The harm is compounded by the indignity of the city’s denying these workers any raises, even for cost of living, for more than five years.

Parents and taxpayers in Queens depend on the city to ensure that our school buildings provide a healthy, clean environment where children can learn and succeed. When the city fails to provide sufficient funds for that to happen, children, teachers and other school workers suffer the consequences.

Hector Figueroa is secretary-treasurer of 32BJ.

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming south 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.  Thursday night: Patchy fog after 4am. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 64. South wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm after midnight.

JFK workers busted in mini liquor theft ring

Eighteen former and current JFK workers were arrested in connection with the theft of more than 100,000 mini liquor bottles at the airport over the last five months, the Queens District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday. They airport employees also stole duty-free items, such as cigarette cartons, perfume and larger bottles of booze. Read more: Queens Courier

U.S. warships headed to Libyan coast as Obama says ‘justice will be done’

The ruthless attack that killed four American diplomats in Libya appears to be a carefully-planned terror strike rather than an uprising of a mob angry over a film that lampooned the Prophet Muhammed. President Obama vowed on Wednesday to bring those responsible to justice – and moved swiftly to hunt down the killers. Read more: Daily News

Police: Elderly woman sexually attacked in Central Park

It was a vicious and shocking attack in the middle of the day, in Central Park. Police say a woman in her 70s, out bird watching, was sexually assaulted, beaten and robbed. Police say they want to speak with a suspect, whom they have a surveillance photo of, about the attack. Read more: NY1

Another protest turns violent outside U.S. Embassy in Cairo

Riot police fired warning shots and tear gas Thursday outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to keep hundreds of protesters away from the building’s perimeter, witnesses said. Six police officers suffered minor injuries during the clashes, said Alla Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Read more: CNN

PCBs leak in second NYC school

NY1 has learned there has been a second incident of the toxic compound leaking out of a light, this time in Queens. NY1 has learned that on Monday, liquid containing toxic compounds known as PCBs dripped out of a light ballast at IS 204 in Queens during the school day. Read more: NY1

Cops pack Queens courtroom to watch alleged cop shooter John Thomas’ arraignment

Police officers packed a Queens courtroom this morning to watch the arraignment of an accused trigger-happy cop shooter. John F. Thomas was remanded by a Queens judge for shooting Sgt. Craig Bier four times in the legs and in a separate incident where he shot Troy Cox 17 times in the buttocks and legs. Read more: NY Post

Flushing Town Hall exhibit explores 150 years of history

One hundred and fifty years ago, a time capsule filled with newspapers of the day, business cards from local merchants and a history of the once-agricultural community was buried in a cornerstone of Flushing Town Hall. Now, the contents of the capsule are on display in the exhibit “Celebrating Historic Flushing Town Hall 150th Anniversary. Read more: Daily News