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School Whistle Blower

Ohanian Comment:Joseph Mugivan battles an issue most people don't even know about: Environmental toxins in schools. Here is his latest report.

by Joseph Mugivan

I had meeting with United Federation of Teachers (UFT) office in Queens.

Thinking of the recent EPA whistle blower and how it took 10 years to expose the toxins released at that site.

The NYC Council moved ahead on my complaint a few years ago through the New York City Department of Investigation without success.
Whistleblower cases are required to move ahead "concurrent" with any other proceedings, meaning that they can not be delayed pending any other process. I had the opportunity to depose the architects and engineers who designed and built my school PS7.

I blew the whistle on a school which was two years behind in replacing the air conditioner compressors which was labeled a high priority when I arrived at the school.

I discovered leaks in the basement "throughout" which were eventually sealed, which would allow vapors to enter the school from this recognized toxic site.

I discovered that three brick workers were seriously injured by toxic exposure building the school and each won a $1.5 million settlement.

The School Construction Authority invested 8 million dollars into the school following my actions.

The UFT indicated that they knew of ventilation problems already but the DOE tested the CO and CO2 levels after my complaint and indicated acceptable standards for CO and CO2 per Federal Occupational and Safety Department (OSHA) standards. I have the report.

The vapor intrusion system under the school to keep out harmful vapors from the site was never turned on and the monitoring of toxic emissions beneath the school ceased.

No testing of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) was done following my complaint in 2003 until 2008! and then not on the 3rd floor where my classroom was located. Vapor intrusion tends to rise to the top through elevator shafts near which my classroom was located. Two years prior I turned down a summer school assignment as I perceived toxins in the small classroom where I was assigned.

While under protection of Federal OSHA law, I was terminated because I expected my site to be tested before committing to returning to the building and I put that in writing. Teachers can no longer expect to be protected in toxic schools or have their classroom tested for toxins known or suspected to be at the site. Children and parents have even less power.

Joseph Mugivan
Vesta Energy Consulting

— Joseph Mugivan




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