Heater swap goes cold

HEATING UP: Orange East Public School assistant principal Glen Bourke and students Oscar Ward, Casey Ryan and Leizeyah Knowles were pleased in 2010 knowing their unflued heaters would be replaced.
HEATING UP: Orange East Public School assistant principal Glen Bourke and students Oscar Ward, Casey Ryan and Leizeyah Knowles were pleased in 2010 knowing their unflued heaters would be replaced.

MANY schools in the Orange Electorate won’t have their toxic unflued gas heaters replaced as the state government has decided the project is too costly.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced yesterday that unflued gas heaters, known for causing respiratory issues, will continue to be installed at existing schools when old heaters need to be replaced.

Only new schools, new classrooms and schools that need the majority of their unflued heaters replaced will receive flued heaters.

Flued heaters prevent toxins that escape from unflued heaters and cause respiratory issues from entering the classroom.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee said he is pleased that he, and former member for Orange Russell Turner, were able to see 487 unflued heaters replaced in 15 Orange schools before this week’s announcement.

“When the issue first came up, Orange wasn’t on the list of the coldest places but Bathurst was,” he said.

“My concern has always been that Orange has a very cold climate and it makes it more impractical to cross-ventilate, which means opening up doors and windows.

“I’m glad to see Orange schools have been replaced.”

The announcement from the state government comes two months after the Environmental Health Risk Assessment into school heating options, commissioned by the previous state Labor government, concluded that unflued gas heaters do not need to be replaced.

The report was conducted by Environmental Resources Management after concerns were raised about the nitrogen dioxide gases released from unflued heaters.

The report supported the retention of unflued gas heaters, saying they were the best engineering option, had the lowest environmental emissions and would be too costly to replace.

This recommendation comes despite the report predicting an annual incidence of up to 6464 episodes of wheezing could be avoided if unflued gas heaters were replaced.

Mr Gee told the Central Western Daily he would voice the issue over a number of schools missing out on unflued heaters in electorate if he was contacted by schools with concerns.

He said he has not yet been contacted by any school in the electorate with issues over the announcement.

erin.somerville@ruralpress.com