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City says it’s on track to clear PCBs from school lights

Hundreds of city schools still have light fixtures that contain potentially toxic PCBs, but they will all be cleared in the next three years, the Department of Education said today.

Back in May, the department struck a deal with New York Communities for Change and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which filed suit over the city’s timeline for replacing toxin-containing light fixtures in July 2011. They agreed that the department and School Construction Authority would clear all schools of PCB-containing light fixtures by the end of 2016, five years ahead of the schedule the city had previously set.

Today, the department said it’s on track to meet that goal. From an email sent to reporters, here are some data points about the department’s efforts so far:

  • The Department of Education identified 737 buildings with T-12 fluorescent light fixtures, which are likely to have or have had PCB-containing light ballasts in the past.
  • Following this summer’s work, we have completed lighting replacement projects in 132 school buildings. This work was performed by the School Construction Authority (SCA) and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).
  • We have also completed T-12 replacements in the classrooms of 73 additional buildings, and will complete the light replacements in the non-classroom portions of these buildings on weekends this fall.
  • Another 186 buildings are currently in the scoping or design phases. We plan to begin work in 77 buildings this fall, and 87 buildings next spring. This work will take place on weekends in order not to disrupt school and after-school programs.

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