The New York City Department of Education has committed to remove toxic compounds, known as PCBs, in all of its schools, but they aren't rushing to complete the work. The City Council slammed their plan Tuesday morning. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Eight hundred schools, including P.S. 87, have PCBs, a toxic compound found in lighting fixtures.
"You can't always trust someone just because they say it's not harmful," said one parent. "Your gut tells you that you don't want your kids being around something that has that. But we don't really have an alternative because this is where they go to school."
The New York City Department of Education said it will remove the PCBs at all of the schools affected. It just might take a while.
"The DOE will be done, according to the current plan, in roughly 2021," said Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.
The current plan to remove PCBs in schools came under fire at the City Council on Tuesday.
Education officials have completed work at 92 school buildings. The problem, according to the council, is that it will take another eight years before the rest are done.
"I don't believe that she would say that if she had children in the classroom," said Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson.
PCBs were banned in 1979, and exposure can affect the immune and nervous systems.
Department of Education officials said they are making PCB removal a priority, but they said that resources are slim, and the work must be done over the summer, when classrooms are vacant.
"We are constrained," Grimm said. "We have to run summer school. We have other projects that have to be done."
At P.S. 87, parents found out about a PCB leak earlier this month.
"I mean, I'm concerned about it," said one parent. "It's been happening in a lot of the schools. We're hoping that it gets cleared up soon."
School officials assured parents that their children aren't in harm's way.
"There is no danger to anybody in any of these buildings," Grimm said.
Department of Education officials said they are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on guidelines for schools when they find PCBs. Those guidelines could help schools like P.S. 87 in the future.