TESTIMONY FROM PUBLIC SCHOOL 65 QUEENS
OZONE PARK, NEW YORK
To introduce myself, I am Katie Acton, residing at 103-23 105th Street, Ozone Park, Queens, NY 11417. I am married with two daughters, ages 9 and 3. Kaylyn Acton-Chadee, my nine-year old attended PS 65Q located at 103-22 99th Street, Ozone Park, NY 11417. The principal is Mrs. Iris Nelson and can be reached at (718) 323-1685. The school falls under the NYC Department of Education, District 27, superintended by Mr. Matthew Bromme. Kaylyn was in fourth grade last school year.
In May of 2002, the Queens Forum published an article regarding the possible toxic condition involving a subsurface plume of TriChloroEthylene that is located beneath the school and the immediate environs. Several concerned parents did come together to get answers to the unanswered. Since that time, the NYCDOE has retained external testers to test the quality of air inside the school. The results are doubtful. In July if 2002, further tests were conducted outside the school involving the groundwater and the soil. The results were very alarming in that they were way above the “acceptable” limits.
Other events have happened during this period. PS 65Q was suddenly labeled a “Title I” school and parents were offered to have their children transferred to better performing schools within the district. Those applications were distributed in June 2002. The response was negative for transfers at that time. Transfers were suddenly approved in September 2002, right before school reopened.
The NYCDOE met with parents three times since May 2002, with the last meeting being on 08/29/2002. At the last meeting I attended, Congressman Anthony Weiner was kind enough to appear on our behalf. He raised important issues on the growth of the plume and it was confirmed that the plume is growing and will grow upward. The delegates also indicated that some measures were being taken to clean up the environment. One involved the installation of an air evaporating mechanism to release the pressure build up below the school.
Another critical issue was the financing of the clean up. It was disclosed that negotiations were in progress with the Mother Company of the dumpers of the TCE. Why must innocent children and the school public and the community wait on the selfish concerns of others to clean up such a potential hazardous condition. Classes are also held in classrooms located in the basement, whose walls separate the inside from the positive TCE soil on the outside.
Even though Kaylyn is no longer a student there, she was affected. She developed asthma. Since the TCE was unveiled, parents have come together and disclosed that their children have also been suffering from sudden onset asthma and persistent headaches. There have also been some cases of cancer and that a teacher has since passed away from
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cancer. Her demise was held a secret for 2 weeks until the school population was informed.
I think that the problem is not just restricted to the school alone, but the entire surrounding neighborhood of which the “transferred” parents still reside. It is with deep sadness that I have to document that the Members of the Board of the Parents Association at PS65 have not been supportive in this matter. Instead of acting as a liaison between the parents and the school authorities, they choose to do otherwise – nothing. My persistence in the matter is one to have the relevant authorities start the clean up immediately, and the confirmation that our community’s children are in a fairly safe environment. We, the residents/parents believe that City and State Agencies need to get involved and do what is ethically and morally correct.
The agencies represented were:
1. NYSDEC – New York State Department of Environmental Conversation
2. NYSDOH – New York State Department of Health
Donn E. Hettrick, Sanitary Engineer? 800-458-1158 X 27880
3. NYCHMG – New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
4. NYCDOH – New York City Department of Health,
Chris D’Andrea, Industrial Hygienist 212-788-4290
Gary Krigsman MD, DOH Physician for District 27
5. NYCDOE - New York City Department of Education,
David Klasfield, Deputy Chancellor of Operations
Bernard Orlan. Director, Environmental Health and Safety
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Another representative was Mr. Davis Harrington, Field Engineer. The agency he represented was not clear. He can be reached at 518-402-9564. He was involved on the drilling of the wells for sampling surrounding the school. ATC Associates, Inc was retained by the NYCDOE to perform the air testing inside the school. Their representatives were present at all three meetings, but did not address the meeting.