School Site Is Toxic, Community Groups Say

     QUEENS, N.Y. (CN) – The New York City School Construction Authority knew that a proposed high school was going to be built over a carcinogenic site, but submitted “insufficient, misleading and inaccurate” scientific assessments to the city council in order to press forward with construction, two community watchdog groups claim in Queens County Supreme Court.

     The Juniper Park Civic Association and Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst TOGETHER (COMET) claim that many of their members have children and grandchildren slated to attend the toxic school.
     They say the New York City Council approved the high school, which plans to enroll 1,100 students and open in September 2012, in the industrial Brooklyn neighborhood of Maspeth.
     The school will allegedly be built on “a heavily contaminated toxic site” that will cause “serious health concern and exposure risk to cancer,” based on the analysis of Dr. James Cervino, a scientific advisor to Sen. Frank Padavan, Councilman Tony Avela and the College Point Civic Association. Cervino also sits on the panel for air quality and climate change for Gov. David Paterson.
     In a statement attached to the complaint, Cervino indicated that the scope of the contamination may be even larger and requires further study.
     “The major problems and conclusions that have recently been brought to light are to the result of inadequate evaluations conducted by scientists that do not have appropriate backgrounds in engineering and general geology,” he wrote. “To adequately assess concerns pertaining to chemical toxins and potential human exposure, risks associated with such compounds need to be evaluated by scientists that have backgrounds in toxicology.”
     The school’s location is not only toxic, but it’s also “inappropriate,” the community groups claim, because there are already two other schools within three blocks, but no plan to increase bus service to accommodate the extra traffic.
Represented by Thomas Ognibene, the plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction blocking its construction.

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