It was only last Friday that parents of kids at PS 29, a Cobble Hill elementary school, claimed they received a disturbing letter. The following Monday, asbestos removal work was to begin, right after school let out. Swiftly, parents rallied on Monday afternoon and launched a petition to halt the construction. However, now that the removal’s been pushed to this Friday (kids would return to class Monday), bad ass Cobble Hill parents are saying they’ll occupy the school and stage a sit-in if the work continues as planned, reports the Daily News.
Protesting parents have legitimate cause for concern. When left alone, “undisturbed asbestos-containing materials generally do not pose a health risk,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If those materials are poked, damaged or uprooted, however, that risk is greatly increased. After all, airborne asbestos fibers are a known carcinogen.
“They had winter break and spring break to do demolition. They did nothing,” Denver Butson, a Cobble Hill parent, told the Daily News. “They have summer vacation coming up and they’re going to do abatement while students are in school? This is insane.”
PS 29 suffers from toxicity on more than one front. More than a year ago, EPA officials made a startling discovery—record high levels of PCBs, known carcinogens, were leaking from light fixtures in New York City public schools. PS 29 was listed as one of the schools affected. After haggling over the timeframe and cost of replacing the light fixtures, last December Mayor Bloomberg finally passed a law that would notify parents of leaks and fix them as soon as possible.
Earlier this month, City Council sent a letter to Dennis Walcott, head of the Department of Education, chastising the department for not complying with that law, according to New York Lawyers For The Public Interest. Previously, the DOE had sent out a letter meant to inform parents of the presence of PCBs, but failed to include a schedule for their removal. “We look forward to hearing how you will resolve these issues and ensure immediate compliance with the law,” the City Council note (co-signed by Christine Quinn, Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson, as well as Council Members Stephen Levin, David Greenfield and Vincent Ignizio) finished.