Ammonia leak confirmed at Pownal rink after evacuation, hazmat team response

Three people inside the Pownal Sports Centre in Pownal, P.E.I., were taken by ambulance after an ammonia leak at the rink Monday morning.

1 rink staffer remains in hospital, says Fire Marshal's office

Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Arsenault talks to Cross Roads firefighters near the Pownal Sports Centre just before noon Monday. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

P.E.I.'s hazardous materials, or hazmat, team has wrapped up operations at the site of an ammonia leak at the Pownal Sports Centre in Pownal, P.E.I., just before noon today. The cause of the incident is still under investigation. 

Three staff members inside the rink were taken by ambulance after the building was evacuated Monday morning. Two have been released while a third has been kept in hospital for observation, according to the P.E.I. Fire Marshal's office. 

As of 5 p.m., several trucks from the Cross Roads Fire Department had vacated the scene and reopened the road, which firefighters had cordoned off all afternoon.

Three homes in the area had also been evacuated — residents have since been allowed to return.

A fire truck blocks the road near the Pownal Sports Centre Monday. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

The Fire Marshal's office confirmed Monday evening via email "an ammonia leak of some sort did occur today."

The cause and details of the leak are being investigated by the chief boiler inspector.

"The rink has been inspected and turned back over to the owners," a spokesperson from the Fire Marshal's office said. " All activity scheduled at the arena this evening has been postponed in order to allow for any residual gas smell to be exhausted."

The situation will be re-evaluated tomorrow and the rink will make an announcement on tomorrow's activities. the spokesperson added.

Ammonia is a chemical that is used in the refrigeration systems of many ice rinks.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, ammonia is a colourless gas that can be a fire and explosion hazard, and can be fatal if inhaled. It can also be corrosive to skin and eyes. 

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca