Alberni Valley Multiplex update
UPDATE - November 22, 2019 - 3:53 PM
On November 21, Technical Safety BC issued an updated Certificate of Inspection to the City of Port Alberni that will allow the arena’s chiller to be placed back into service.
We accepted the City’s proposed plan on November 22 with some minor additions that permit them to resume operation of the chiller for ice making. Under the terms of the new Certificate of Inspection, the City must follow its plan to monitor the system to confirm the integrity of the repair and vessel. This will be done by ammonia and brine testing, combined with testing of the repaired welds.
As we've learned in BC even small leaks can quickly become very dangerous if the cause is not understood and effectively managed. All ammonia leaks must be reported to Technical Safety BC within 24 hours of occurrence, as per the Safety Standards Act.
We thank the City of Port Alberni, Isotherm, Accent Refrigeration and other parties involved for their collaboration and diligence in resolving this important public safety issue.
UPDATE - November 21, 2019 - 2:20 PM
On November 20, representatives from Technical Safety BC, the City of Port Alberni, Accent Refrigeration, and the original manufacturer of the chiller, Isotherm, met in Port Alberni. Together, we assessed further the equipment and the repairs to better understand the nature of the failure, the repair, and any necessary instructions or testing for continued safe operation. As a result, it has been concluded that the unit can be safely operated and as such, Technical Safety BC has provided a new Certificate of Inspection to the City of Port Alberni that will enable the Alberni Valley Multiplex to resume ice-making activities as quickly as possible, once certain conditions are met.
As an independent regulator, Technical Safety BC's mandate is to oversee the safe installation and operation of technical equipment in the province. Everything we do has the safety of British Columbians in mind. We know from the fatality in Fernie that even small amounts of ammonia can be fatal, and it is very important to us that proper safety procedures be upheld.
November 16, 2019, Vancouver - On November 5, Technical Safety BC was made aware of an ammonia leak at the Alberni Valley Multiplex in Port Alberni. The source of the ammonia leak could not be immediately isolated or identified, and Technical Safety BC issued a Safety Order to shut down the facility.
Upon testing by Technical Safety BC, it was determined there was a hairline crack in a weld on the rink's chiller (a unit which creates ice using ammonia as a cooling agent). That weld was repaired, however, more weld cracks were later found. Materials testing was completed by Acuren, an independent laboratory. Based on those lab results, Technical Safety BC has reasonable cause to believe these cracks could be indicative of systemic manufacturing problems and have opted to take this vessel out of service until it can be recertified by a professional engineer.
After careful consideration, Technical Safety BC has issued a safety order requiring that the refrigeration unit be repaired in compliance with applicable industry codes and standards, inspected by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and declared safe to be put back into service. The timeline for this to be completed is dependent on the contractors and the manufacturer.
We understand the impact a rink closure like this can have on a small community, and are sympathetic to those who have been affected, including sports teams that have had to reschedule tournaments. However, public safety is our top priority. An ammonia leak from refrigeration systems has the potential to cause injury or even death to employees, emergency response personnel, members of the public using the facilities, and those living in the nearby area. We saw this with the fatal Fernie ammonia release that killed three people, and we feel it is essential to take all precautions to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
More information on our work to educate the public and industry around ammonia can be viewed at: https://www.technicalsafetybc.ca/ammonia
Communications Business Partner
Cell: 778 396 2164