Burnaby residents are taking their concerns about pipelines close to schools to the provincial government.
BROKE - Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion - wants Education Minister Don McRae to come up with a detailed health and safety plan for all affected B.C. schools to respond to any oil spills or exposure to the highly toxic chemicals.
The residents first raised concerns about the Kinder Morgan's pipeline running beneath the school grounds at Stoney Creek Community School in late November, the same school where Kinder Morgan held its first local information session on the pipeline expansion plan.
The residents' letter, dated Dec. 14, calls on the minister to prepare a safety plan for all affected schools in B.C. and a specific evacuation training for school staff in the event of a pipeline leak or spill, be it crude oil or jet fuel. The group also wants a long-term gas and oil plan along all oil pipelines, substations, tank farms and refineries near or adjacent to schools in B.C.
BROKE, whose membership includes people whose homes were sprayed with oil in the 2007 pipeline rupture, pointed to another Kinder Morgan spill in 2009, when 200,000 litres of oil leaked from the Burnaby tank farm. According to BROKE's letter to the minister, there were evacuations in the nearby community.
The letter also mentions a recent motion passed by the Burnaby Teachers' Association, calling on the provincial government and the Education Ministry and the Burnaby board of education to investigate 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."
Outgoing school board chair Larry Hayes told the NOW in late November that the district will be consulting with Kinder Morgan on how to deal with potential oil-related risks.
The Trans Mountain pipeline has been transporting oil products from Alberta to the West Coast since 1953, and Kinder Morgan, the pipeline's operator, now wants to twin the system to increase shipping capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 750,000. The current pipeline's right of way runs through two Burnaby school district properties: Stoney Creek Community School and Forest Grove Elementary.
The Education Ministry has not yet received the letter but pointed out that pipeline safety generally falls under the National Energy Board's jurisdiction. To read the final copy of the letter, go to Jennifer Moreau's blog at www. burnabynow.com.