NEWS AND ISSUES


August 24, 2009


Joel Klein
Chancellor
Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, New York 10007

Ross Holden, Esq.
Vice President & General Counsel
School Construction Authority
30-30 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, New York 11101


Dear Chancellor Klein and Mr. Holden,

We write in support of the request by PS 199 Parent-Teacher Association Co-Presidents Sharon Lustig and Valerie Watnick that the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) immediately resume efforts to remediate polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the PS 199 building at 270 West 70 Street in Manhattan.

We certainly appreciate the significant progress SCA has made in reducing the level of PCB contamination at PS 199 between last summer and this past spring, when it discontinued that effort pending further direction from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Such EPA guidance on the unacceptable levels of air contamination (Action Levels) in school facilities has yet to come, however, and with only a few weeks remaining before the first day of the new school year, many PS 199 parents continue to be concerned about persistent PCB contamination at the school. We share those concerns, and urge you to address them promptly.

We firmly believe that, in the absence of these Action Levels, SCA should continue to pursue aggressive testing and remediation of the school building until its PCB contamination levels are equal to or less than the normal atmospheric concentrations in urban areas, or gbackground rate.h We also ask that SCA continue to consult with EPA and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as it has on its remediation efforts thus far.

We understand that SCA expects the pertinent written guidelines from EPA to be released in the coming weeks, but the students, teachers, custodians and paraprofessionals who study and work in the building cannot wait. We were led to believe this problem would be resolved before the beginning of the last school year and we are now concerned that it might persist into the next one.

As you know, PCBs are a developmental toxin regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Although we understand that PCB remediation is costly, we cannot put a price tag on the safety of our children and education professionals. Thus we echo the call by the PS 199 PTA for PCB remediation to resume immediately, even in the absence of additional guidance from the EPA.

We appreciate your consideration of our request and look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,


Jerrold Nadler
Member of Congress

Scott M. Stringer
Manhattan Borough President

Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senator

Linda B. Rosenthal
New York Assembly Member


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