Child Safety, Zoning By-laws and the Oil Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Burnaby: December 31, 2012

Residents of Burnaby call on Mayor Derek Corrigan to scrap city by-laws that allow schools, daycares and residential developments to be built near refineries, oil tanks, substations and pipelines. The risk of leaks and spills of combustible oil and carcinogenic gases is unacceptable and should have never been allowed.

Elsie Dean of BROKE says, “We should not have to wait for a major catastrophe before we act. Schools and daycares should never have been built near oil facilities in the first place and we need to ensure that they never will again. Like gun control, we should be thinking about laws to protect children before a crisis occurs. Schools and housing developments must be protected from carcinogenic and combustible gases.”

The potential health risks to children in schools near or adjacent to oil pipelines is underlined by the tragedy in Fallon, Nevada. A lawsuit launched by a Nevada mother against Kinder Morgan alleges that the company failed to adequately monitor and repair a pipeline that was leaking jet fuel beneath a school playground and that the leak contributed to a cluster of childhood cancer cases at the school and the death of one child.

There are warnings about noxious gases strategically placed throughout the areas where tank farms, oil pipelines and substations have been allowed. Yet schools like Burnaby North Senior, and Forest Grove and Seaforth Elementary sit close to, or below, major oil facilities. Others like Stoney Creek and Lyndhurst Elementary and a YMCA childcare center sits just meters from both highly combustible jet fuel and heavy oil pipelines that carry a soup of toxic chemicals.

There have been major spills and leaks near these and other schools, daycares and residences throughout the years 2007 , 2008 , 2009 and 2010 . All have required an emergency response and evacuations, costing tax payers thousands of dollars. In January 2012, residences and a private school also had to be closed in Sumas.

Tax payers have always borne the costs associated with emergency response, including evacuations and medical care resulting from oil pipeline failure, oil spills and noxious gases from tank farms and substations.

Commenting on the cost to tax payers, Elsie Dean makes the point that “The companies that are found responsible for spills and oil pipeline ruptures should pay not only for clean up, but for all emergency response and medical care as well. The cost to tax payers of emergencies has not been factored into the expense of oil pipelines, tank farms, and sub-stations. Nor have the costs of routine air monitoring near the oil refinery on Burrard Inlet. When Kinder Morgan promises a few million in tax payments, it should be balanced against the hidden costs to tax payers of maintaining a huge oil infrastructure in Burnaby.”

In response to the concern about children’s health in schools and daycares near oil infrastructure, BROKE calls on all levels of government as well as the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to recommend that oil industries should not be zoned near schools, daycares and residences and that all measures must be employed to separate dangerous industries from homes and schools. Children’s safety should be the first priority for every level of government.

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For more information please email info@brokepipelinewatch.ca

1. The Burnaby Teacher’s Association has already passed a resolution on December 4, 2012 to demand the Burnaby school district monitor oil pipelines for leaks and develop comprehensive evacuations plans for schools near tank farms, refineries and substations.
2. Kinder Morgan plead guilty to negligence in the 2007 pipeline rupture and found negligent by the National Energy Board in the 2012 incident.
3. http://www.mynews4.com/news/local/story/fallon-cancer-cluster/–P1ofP56UqVNbV3tPtJDg.cspx

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