City of Kelowna officials are reassuring the public about the safety of its ice arenas in light of the tragic death of three people at a Fernie arena Tuesday, as a result of an ammonia leak at that facility.
Kelowna’s supervisor of arenas and stadiums Steve Fagan said Wednesday in addition to automatic leak detection sensors that immediately notify operators and the local fire department of any leaks greater than 200 parts per million, city staff are fully trained in special safety measures and they practice them regularly.
Any leak also has to be reported to the B.C. Safety Authority.
“The public has nothing to fear using our arenas,” said Fagan.
Earlier this month, an ammonia leak described as “very minor” was detected at the Rutland Arena in the city. But Fagan said the sensors immediately identified the leak, the problem was found and fixed in short order and there were no problems. The city works with an outside contractor to maintain the systems at both the Rutland and Memorial Arenas. Private operator RG Properties looks after the Capital News Centre and Prospera Place, the city’s other two ice arenas.
Ammonia is used at ice arenas to to cool the brine used to to make ice.
The ammonia is confined to just one room at the arenas and that room is off-limits to the public.
Ammonia is not piped through any area where the public gathers. Instead, the brine is piped into the room, cooled and then piped out.
On Tuesday, the leak in Fernie killed two municipal employees and a worker with that city’s system maintenance contractor. The leak also forced the evacuation of several homes near the arena.
Fagan said he will be interested to hear more more about just what happened in Fernie because it could have an impact at other arenas across the province.
While upgrades have been made over the years, both the Rutland Arena and Memorial Arena are aging facilities.
Fagan said he expects either the B.C. Safety Authority of WorkSafe BC will issue directives following the investigation of the Fernie accident.
“It’s very sad what happened there, he said. “I’m sure its a tough situation.”
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