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NY1 Exclusive: PCBs Leak In Second NYC School

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TWC News: NY1 Exclusive: PCBs Leak In Second NYC School
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NY1 has learned there has been a second incident of the toxic compound leaking out of a light, this time in Queens. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Watch out when walking around city schools. That drip coming from the ceiling lights may be toxic.

IS 204 in Queens is now the second school to report a dangerous leak during the first week of the school year.

Officials said a custodian discovered a PCB-laced liquid on a guidance counselor's office floor during the school day Monday.

They said the room was sealed off before anyone else could enter.

"We have leaks," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "There are old lights and we are replacing lights."

The DOE said the latest leaky light was replaced Tuesday night and parents will be notified, as required by law.

Over the past several months, ballasts leaking PCBs have been reported in 177 school buildings. But almost all of those leaks were contained in the light casing.

At IS 204, the toxic juice actually fell out of the light fixture.

It's the second time that's happened within a week. At PS 41 on Staten Island, liquid with PCBs landed on a fifth-grade student during the first day of school.

"It’s absolutely tragic that a child had pure PCBs drip on her," said Christina Giorgio of the New York Lawyers for Public Interest. "It’s totally unacceptable."

PCBs were used in construction material until the late 1970s, when they were banned. Exposure can effect the nervous and immune systems and has caused cancer in animals.

The DOE is in the process of removing the lighting fixtures from 700 schools, after pressure from parents and advocates. But the city says it will take nine more years to complete the project.

Advocates and parents have gone to court to try to hurry things along.

"They are actually oozing out of the light fixture," Giorgio said. "The leaking is so perfuse at that point."

Walcott said the overall schedule won't change but they'll deal with leaks as they occur.

"We're still going to adhere to our 10-year timeline," he said. "But where there is a dripping that takes place, whether within the ballast or onto the floor, we're of course going to respond to that immediately."

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