Some schools may not undergo PCB testing yet
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Following the discovery of PCB concerns at Burlington’s High School, other schools in the state were tested for the chemical. But some schools may go untested for now.
The Vermont Legislature is deliberating a pause on the unprecedented PCB school testing program but state officials are imploring lawmakers to stay the course.
The House-introduced bill suggests delaying the project until the state develops a plan for all future school construction needs. Bill sponsors are concerned districts will pay for PCB cleanup now, only to be required to completely renovate or demolish the same space within the next few years, wasting money, time, and resources.
Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine testified to the Senate Education Committee Wednesday that reevaluating and redesigning the PCB program while it’s already underway would be a waste. He also impressed upon lawmakers the importance of reducing health risks to students and staff immediately.
Vermont Education Secretary Dan French said he agrees. “When public health concerns are identified, it’s hard to make the argument to go slow. It’s taken a lot of work to assemble the process for testing, and I think we’re a bit worried that we’d lose momentum if we were to do any kind of delay right now. And essentially the testing process has its own ability to regulate itself, speed up and slow down as results come in,” French said.
Of the 31 schools that have received testing results so far, there are 10 schools with spaces that exceed the action levels that are currently obligated to clean up the contamination. Those mitigation and remediation measures can cost up to millions of dollars in taxpayer money.
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