Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut February 17, 2016 - 11:45 am

Nunavut school re-opens two weeks after latest fuel spill

“The department of education takes the safety of students very seriously"

SARAH ROGERS
A Feb. 1 fuel spill closed Pangnirtung's Alookie elementary school for two weeks. Student will return to class Feb. 22. (FILE PHOTO)
A Feb. 1 fuel spill closed Pangnirtung's Alookie elementary school for two weeks. Student will return to class Feb. 22. (FILE PHOTO)

A Nunavut elementary school has re-opened after a two-week closure caused by a fuel spill, say Nunavut education officials.

Alookie elementary school in Pangnirtung cancelled classes and sent students home Feb. 1 after fumes from a fuel spill in the building’s mechanical room created a potential safety hazard for Alookie’s 195 students.

Tracey MacMillan, superintendent of schools with Qikiqtani School Operations, said roughly 30 litres of fuel leaked during a transfer from the school’s larger storage tank outdoors to the smaller indoor tank.

Most of the fuel spilled into the mechanical room’s crawlspace, she said, which allowed crews to isolate the spill during its clean-up.

The Department of Community and Government Services oversaw the clean-up and air quality testing, which determined the school was safe to re-open, MacMillan said.

“The Department of Education takes the safety of students very seriously, so all the necessary precautions were taken to ensure their health and safety,” she said.

During the closure, Alookie students attended class at the nearby Attagoyuk high school, MacMillan said, and were able to maintain their class hours.

But Alookie students won’t actually return to their school until Feb. 22, given this week is professional development week at schools across the territory.

In a territory powered on diesel, fuel spills are a fairly common occurrence at buildings in Nunavut.

Alookie school closed for more than two months in the fall of 2011, when a furnace malfunction leaked more than 200 litres of fuel from its combustion chamber.

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