PS 51 parents still wait for health report




Dozens of parents whose children attended the Bronx New School, PS 51 during the two decades it was located at 3200 Jerome Ave. met with the state departments of Heath and Environment Conservation in the Bedford Park Senior Center on April 30.

They were there  to review the proposed remediation plan for the site, which was found to be contaminated with carcinogens in early 2011, but they expressed dismay that a health report regarding those exposed to the toxins is still not available. 

“It’s a shame. It’s just another waste of time,” said Frank Burgos, a custodian who has worked at PS 51 for seven years and who spent months cleaning up the old building before being told about the toxins. “We must have had at least ten meetings and every time it’s the same. We’re still waiting.”

In 2011, the teachers union commissioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to study the health consequences former PS 51 staff could face. The federal agency subcontracted the state DOH to complete the report, according to Allison Manuel, a Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition organizer working with PS 51 Parents United. She said the two agencies have failed to release their work due to a disagreement over appropriate guidelines for TCE.

Many in the advocacy group PS 51 Parents United said they were disappointed that there was still no date for when a report on health risks their children face will be released. 

According to attendees at last week’s meeting, Dawn Hettrick, a public health engineer with the DOH, said the health report will likely be released in late May or early June.

After environmental tests conducted to fulfill lease-renewal requirements in February 2011 uncovered high levels of trichloroethylene, or TCE, in classrooms, the Department of Education waited six months to inform families. 

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