Bishopbriggs: Council faces prosecution after gas leak at Balmuildy

East Dunbartonshire Council has been reported to the Crown Office after an investigation by health and safety into gas leaks at local primary schools.

The Herald revealed back in March 2020 that Craigdhu Primary in Milngavie, (pictured on front page) became the third school in East Dunbartonshire to be evacuated over a carbon monoxide leak.

Fortunately, a new alarm placed in Craigdhu after the first incident at Balmuildy Primary in Bishopbriggs, (pictured above) a few weeks earlier, picked up traces of the toxic gas.

The evacuation of pupils and staff at the Milngavie school on Wednesday, March 4, came a day after a similar incident at Wester Cleddens primary in Bishopbriggs.

Balmuildy Primary School, Bishopbriggs

Faulty boilers have been blamed for the leaks in all three schools and East Dunbartonshire Council reported itself to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it admitted it could not find a gas safety certificate for Balmuildy.

A number of pupils at Balmuildy fell ill before the leak was detected, with some complaining of headaches and feeling sick. Emergency services were called out and the escape of the poisonous fumes sparked a major evacuation of around 400 staff and children there.

A spokesperson for the HSE, which has completed its probe, said this week: "We submitted a report to the Crown and can't comment further."

Now the Crown Office is considering its next steps in connection with the escape of the poisonous fumes at Balmuildy.

A spokesperson for the COPFS said: “The Procurator Fiscal has received a report in connection with an incident at Balmuildy Primary School in February 2020. The report is under consideration.”

The Herald understands the council could face a substantial fine if convicted.

As the Herald went to press on Wednesday, East Dunbartonshire Council’s Depute Chief Executive, Ann Davie, said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on this ongoing matter, but I can confirm that all East Dunbartonshire Council boilers are safe, inspected and maintained in accordance with the relevant legislation."

Parents were informed of the Milngavie incident in March 2020 in a letter from East Dunbartonshire Council’s Chief Education Officer Jacqui MacDonald.

She said the fire service discovered the fault was in an external boiler house at Craigdhu and there were no traces of carbon monoxide in the school building. The boiler was repaired.

Thomas Glen, Depute Chief Executive for Place Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, who has now left the council, said at the time: “A review of gas safety certificates across the school estate was carried out following the Balmuildy incident.

“All gas boilers have now been serviced and certified.”

One local teacher, who did not want to be named, expressed fears to the Herald back in 2020 that council buildings were not being properly maintained and called the situation “a complete disgrace.”

He said: “The council is scurrying about looking for safety certificates. Heads should roll for this at the highest level.”