The regional district says trace amounts of ammonia leaked from a cooling facility outside Strathcona Gardens but that it posed no risk to staff and the public. File photo

Ice rink services partially resume after ammonia leak in Campbell River

Strathcona Gardens planning to make facility ‘ammonia-free’ in 2019

An ammonia leak caused staff to close one of the arenas at Strathcona Gardens during the weekend, but services partially resumed on Tuesday, according to officials.

Staff shut down an outdoor cooling plant after finding that it was leaking “trace amounts of ammonia” on Saturday, according to a statement from the Strathcona Regional District (SRD).

The SRD said the leak didn’t pose a health or safety hazard, but that it’s taking every precaution to address the problem.

“The facility’s ammonia-detection alarms were not triggered as the trace amounts did not present a risk to staff and the public,” according to the Dec. 3 statement. “No one was injured, and authorities have been notified.”

The closure doesn’t affect the Rod Brind’amour Arena – the main rink at the Strathcona Gardens – where the Campbell River Storm is slated to play against the Victoria Cougars on Friday night.

Staff noticed issues with the cooling plant on Saturday, and found that ammonia was leaking from an evaporative condenser tower located outside the recreational complex. The plant was “immediately taken out of service,” according to the SRD.

Factors including cold weather meant that some activities took place at Arena 2 on Tuesday, said Koreen Gurak, facility manager for Strathcona Gardens

“With it being a bit of a deep freeze outside, we are able to keep that ice cool and we are running at a reduced capacity on Arena 2,” she said. “Very few things have been affected.”

Staff are also using a compressor to cool the ice and constantly monitoring ice temperatures, she said.

The district hopes Arena 2 will be fully operational within the next week. The ice is expected to remain open until the end of March, Gurak said.

READ MORE: Aging cooling system behind B.C. fatal ammonia leak needed replacing in 2010

READ MORE: Fernie mourns after fatal ammonia leak

She said the facility is communicating with users to let them know whether activities will go forward as normally scheduled.

“We’ll be in daily communication as it goes until we get the temporary plant, which is set to be shipped by the end of the week, and hopefully up and running by next week,” she said.

She added that users could contact the facility or check the website of the Strathcona Gardens and the complex’s Facebook page for updates.

SRD staff also said updates would be posted on the regional district’s website and social media channels.

The SRD plans to make Strathcona Gardens “ammonia free” by switching to a carbon dioxide cooling system in the next year, said Victoria Smith, manager of strategic initiatives for the SRD.

She said that money for the project is coming from the Strategic Priorities Fund of the Federal Gas Tax, a levy charged on every litre of fuel at the pump.

Smith added that the SRD is “trying to minimize impacts to users, and thank goodness we’ve got a longer term solution already well in place.”

The new system is being installed ahead of the 2019 ice season, during the facility’s annual shut-down period, and ice generally opens in mid-August, according to Gurak.

Concern about cooling systems using ammonia mounted following fatalities in the B.C. community of Fernie last year. Three men died in October 2017 following an ammonia release at the Fernie Memorial Arena.

The workers were carrying out maintenance on ice-making equipment when the fatal incident took place, according to a report released in August by WorkSafeBC.

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney cadet takes home gold at South Island Zone biathlon

‘Rising star’ sets her sights on provincials

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Meet Arthur Heart, Oak Bay Avenue’s resident stickman

Contest winner dubs stickman Art Heart

All Carlton Cards stores closing in the coming weeks

Schurman Retail Group stores across North America will close, including 79 in Canada

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C.-based Coulson Aviation C-130 crashes in Australia

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Island Bakery in Cobble Hill to close

Cobble Hill store in business since 1982

Man killed by police in Lytton called 911, asking to be shot: RCMP

Howard Schantz, also known as Barry Schantz was killed following a standoff at his Lytton home

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

Most Read