Asbestos Protests Continue at Cobble Hill’s P.S. 29

April 25, 2012 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Push To Change Law for All ‘Toxic’ School Construction

Parents and supporters wearing surgical masks and waving signs rallied outside Cobble Hill’s construction-shrouded P.S. 29 on Monday after learning that asbestos-removal work had been scheduled to begin that night without the legally required notification.

The asbestos removal is part of a massive and dusty 18-month renovation project that started February at the highly-rated school on Henry Street between Baltic and Kane streets. Parents say the noise and dust are already affecting their children’s readiness for this week’s standardized tests, and some are considering pulling their kids out of school during the asbestos project.

The city, which says it followed all required notification procedures, now plans to begin the asbestos removal Friday evening, a postponement it attributed to inclement weather.

But some parents are calling on the city to postpone the asbestos removal until summer — and change the city’s school construction policy to ensure that all dusty and potentially toxic work (involving asbestos and lead) be carried out during school breaks.

“Thus far, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott have refused to bend despite our demonstrating that the School Construction Authority (SCA) has cut corners and not followed the specific codes laid out in the 100-page procedural document they cited to us,” the P.S. 29 Parent Construction Committee said in a statement Wednesday.

Representatives from SCA and the Department of Education (DOE) plan to meet with parents, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Council Member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope/Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens) at what is sure to be a contentious PTA meeting on Thursday. A representative from the Taylor Environmental Group, which is monitoring the asbestos work, will also attend.

Lander: Lack of Transparency

In a letter to SCA President Lorraine Grillo, Council Member Brad Lander called on the agency to halt the asbestos abatement work — and other work affecting air quality — at P.S. 29 until the school year is over.

“At a bare minimum, I believe that the SCA is obligated to hold off on any asbestos work for at least seven calendar days — since public posting of the work was not provided in advance, as required under the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Asbestos Rules and Regulations,” he wrote.

“I was particularly troubled to learn that the P.S. 29 community — administrators, teachers, students and parents — are expected to wait, each day that asbestos abatement occurs, for a ‘re-occupancy’ letter, indicating that air-quality monitoring has confirmed that the classrooms affected are safe.  Parents and teachers should not have to be on ‘standby’ regarding their children’s health,” Lander wrote.

“In addition, the SCA’s lack of transparency about the asbestos abatement elements on this project have made it more difficult for parents to believe that they are being given all of the relevant information.”

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