British Columbia

Ammonia leak shuts down Port Alberni ice rink venue

All programs and activities at the Alberni Valley Multiplex have been cancelled until further notice because of an ammonia leak discovered in the facility on Sunday.

City says Alberni Valley Multiplex could be closed for at least a week

A low-level ammonia leak on Nov. 3 has shut down the Alberni Valley Multiplex. (Google Streets)

All programs and activities at a Port Alberni, B.C., community venue have been cancelled until further notice because of an ammonia leak discovered at the facility's ice rink on Sunday.

The leak at the Alberni Valley Multiplex set off a low-level alarm indicating ammonia levels of at least 25 parts per million.

According to Tim Pley, the city's chief administrative officer, it's an environment which is safe for up to eight hours.

"Because of our inability to control that leak and an abundance of safety, Technical Safety B.C. directed that we turn the plant off and shut it off until it's repaired," he said.

City staff are on site working with Accent Refrigeration Systems, the company responsible for ice plant maintenance, as well as WorkSafeBC and Technical Safety B.C. The leak has been located in a weld in the refrigeration system's piping.

Pley says previous tragedies have made municipalities and regulators extremely vigilant when it comes to dealing with ammonia.

Two years ago, three men died after an ammonia leak at the Fernie Memorial Arena in the East Kootenay city.

"Fernie, as tragic as it was, was certainly a reminder to all of us that products that we take for granted, interacting with them on a daily basis, can be dangerous," said Pley.

The municipality is anticipating the facility will be closed for at least a week depending on how long it takes for welders to repair the leak.

As of now, Pley says, the rink's ice is still intact and if the leak is repaired, activities could resume late on Wednesday. Otherwise, they'll have to start from scratch making new ice.

'Cherished facility'

The closure is significant in Port Alberni, where Pley says the rink acts as a community hub.

"It's a very heavily used, cherished facility," he said. "It's where everybody meets and it's used for a variety of different sports and age groups."

A minor league hockey tournament is scheduled for this long weekend and several junior teams already have travel plans for games on Friday and Saturday.

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