New York City comptroller proposes bonds to strip PCBs from schools

Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:42pm EST

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(Reuters) - New York City Comptroller John Liu on Friday proposed borrowing $407 million through a new bond program to remove dangerous toxins from public schools.

Proceeds from the sale of the bonds, which would be called Green Apple Bonds, would be used to strip polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from old lighting fixtures by 2015.

That would be six years earlier than the Department of Education's existing plan to remove PCB-carrying light fixtures in 772 buildings by 2021.

Debt service on the bonds would total $380 million through 2021. But the cost would be offset by about $719 million in savings from reduced energy consumption and federal energy conservation subsidies, Liu said in a statement.

Included in that number are expected savings based on current record-low interest rate, compared to the city's higher 10-year average cost.

The spending is already included in the city's long-term plan, but Liu's proposal would accelerate it, a spokesman said.

A lawsuit against the Education Department by a coalition of parents is still pending. The parents contend that the continuing presence of PCBs violates federal toxic substance control laws, and that the city's 2021 remediation timeframe is unacceptably long.

The manufacture of PCBs was banned in 1979. They have been shown to cause cancer in animals.

(Reporting By Hilary Russ; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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