The Burnaby Teachers' Association is taking its concerns to the B.C. Teachers' Federation, calling for a health risk assessment, increased safety plans, and long-term monitoring for schools close to oil pipelines.
"Our interest in this issue derives from our concern for the safety of those who learn and work in Burnaby schools," said Patrick Parkes, vice-president of the Burnaby Teachers' Association. "It is a fact that pipelines have leaks - it is not a question of if, but when and where. Many Burnaby schools are uncomfortably close to present pipelines and oil tank farms."
The Burnaby Teachers' Association passed a resolution in early December highlighting three areas of concern.
The association wants the BCTF to push the provincial government and the Burnaby school board to "investigate the specific health and safety risks of long-term exposure to jet fuel and other oil products, including diluted bitumen and the chemicals used to transport it, at schools on or near the present oil pipelines and oil tank farms in Burnaby."
The resolution also asks the BCTF to call on the Education Ministry to come up with "a detailed health and safety plan for all affected schools in B.C. to respond to any oil spills or exposure to the highly toxic chemicals used in modern oil pipelines and tank farms, as well as specific evacuation training for staff."
The local teachers' association also wants the BCTF to pressure the provincial government to develop long-term gas leak monitoring along all oil pipelines, refineries and tank farms near or adjacent to schools and school yards across the province.
Kinder Morgan would like to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline, increasing capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000, according to the company's latest announcement yesterday. The line has been running oil from Alberta to Burnaby since the 1950s. The right-of-way for the existing pipeline runs along two elementary school properties: Stoney Creek and Forest Grove, but the teachers' association is also concerned about Seaforth, Westridge, Lyndhurst, Capitol Hill, and Confederation Park elementary schools and Burnaby Mountain Secondary.
"Burnaby experienced an oil spill in 2007, and increasing the Kinder Morgan pipeline's capacity will increase the risk of yet another," Parkes said. "Burnaby teachers are concerned for the safety of children at Burnaby schools and are showing solidarity with a community that clearly does not support an expansion of the pipeline."
Parkes said the association has raised its concerns with district staff and will bring the resolution to the BCTF's annual general meeting in March.