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Comptroller plans to remove PCBs

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Recently, I proposed that the city issue Green Apple Bonds to get the thousands of toxic PCB-carrying light fixtures out of our public schools.

PCBs are known carcinogens that are in the outdated light fixtures that hang over the heads of our students, teachers and school employees. A product of a bygone era, these toxins exist in 772 public school buildings.

In Queens, PCB-carrying light fixtures exist in IS 238, IS 25, MS 53, PS 223 and PS 79, among others.

The city plans to remove these light fixtures by 2021, but that is unacceptable. That is our opinion and the determination of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

My proposed Green Apple Bonds would rid our school buildings of toxic light fixtures by 2015 — six years ahead of the city’s schedule. It would also lower the city’s carbon footprint and boost its economy.

It would eliminate the harmful PCBs by replacing light fixtures at 772 public school buildings citywide and turn these schools into green buildings by upgrading their heating and cooling systems, replacing old boilers, and installing new smart meters, thereby creating 3,000 jobs.

All this can be done while saving city taxpayers $719 million over the life of the bonds from energy efficiency, lower interest rates and federal subsidies for energy conservation. The savings will far outweigh the expected $380 million cost of the bonds.

Every day, our children, teachers and school workers are at risk that a crack in a light fixture will leak PCBs into the classroom. Parents should not be forced to send their children to schools where overhead light fixtures threaten to ooze toxic juice.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we are aware of the deadly effects of climate change and that we must do more to battle its effects.

Green Apple Bonds will make schools safer and save tax dollars, but we will also be reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 1.4 million metric tons through 2021 — 47 percent more than the city’s current plan.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in City Hall and City Council to make Green Apple Bonds a reality.

John Liu

City Comptroller

Manhattan

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