Canadian city reaffirms commitment to NH3

By Andrew Williams, Jan 23, 2018, 11:05 3 minute reading

The city of Delta, British Columbia has conducted an interagency emergency response exercise based on a simulated ammonia leak.

Downtown Vancouver. The city of Delta is part of Greater Vancouver, British Columbia.

Reaffirming its commitment to natural refrigerant ammonia in the wake of last October’s fatal accident in Fernie, the Canadian city of Delta, British Columbia last week (18 January) conducted an interagency emergency response exercise based on a simulated ammonia leak at South Delta Recreation Centre.

On 17 October 2017, tragedy befell the small Canadian town of Fernie, British Columbia when three men – Wayne Hornquist, 59; Lloyd Smith, 52; and Jason Podloski, 46 – lost their lives as the result of an ammonia leak while conducting routine maintenance at an ice rink.

While the town of just over 5,000 mourned, local headlines in the aftermath of the incident ranged from alarmed ‘Expert sounds alarm on ammonia at public rinks’) to reassuring (‘Rinks safe despite use of ammonia to chill ice, cities say’). One of B.C.’s elected officials, Wayne Stetski, even took to calling for a countrywide phase-out of ammonia in ice rinks, opting for CO2 instead.

The incident left some people scared of the refrigerant that many Canadian ice rinks use.

In the aftermath of the accident, several industry experts on ammonia use and safety argued on that vilifying ammonia is unnecessary and unwise, pointing to the valuable environmental benefits of this natural refrigerant and pointing to the development of safer, lower-charge ammonia solutions.

We’re encouraged by the results of the exercise. It’s our duty to ensure that all safety requirements for Delta facilities are met and that our staff members are as well prepared as possible to respond to the unlikely event of a similar emergency.
– Delta Mayor Lois E. Jackson

Delta 'not looking at switching from ammonia'

The city of Delta said in a news release that the training exercise provided an opportunity for staff to practice their response and review emergency protocol for the safe evacuation and containment of a chemical leak. Adjacent community groups, schools, and businesses took part in the exercise by reviewing their own procedures.

Delta’s contracted refrigeration plant maintenance provider also completed a full review of ammonia safe work policies and procedures.

The City of Delta, Delta Fire, Delta Police, Fraser Valley Refrigeration and British Columbia Ambulance Services all participated in the exercise.

Mayor Lois Jackson said the city would ensure all safety requirements are met and that staff members were well prepared to respond to the unlikely event of an emergency.

Delta is not currently looking at switching from ammonia to another refrigerants, said Ken Kuntz, acting Delta city manager.

“These are tried and true refrigeration systems and over the years with the WorkSafe and Technical Safety B.C. regulations we’ve had constant upgrades to the safety systems and even the way they’re configured,” Kuntz said.

“So, for example, you could have your refrigeration system co-mingled with where people came and went in the building. You can’t do any of that anymore. As we replace chillers and other large components, we’ve built separate rooms and separate alarm systems. There’s basically a triple safety system on them and we continue to upgrade as rules and regulations come along.”

Ammonia is a naturally occurring substance with no global-warming or ozone-depletion potential.

By Andrew Williams

Jan 23, 2018, 11:05

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