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Curling tournaments cancelled for ammonia safety upgrades

The club is replacing its ammonia sensors, installing a ventilation stack among other upgrades

The Prince Rupert Curling Club has cancelled its season opening bonspiel to upgrade safety features for its ammonia ice making plant.

The Two-on-Two Sturling ‘Spiel was scheduled to take place on Oct. 13 at the club. Club president Jamie Malthus said the club has been working to complete safety tasks assigned to it be WorkSafeBC following an inspection at the end of last summer.

Specifically, the club is upgrading ammonia sensors in its ice making plant that are critical to alerting maintenance staff if there is a leak.

READ MORE: Operational and technical failures responsible for Fernie tragedy

“After the Fernie leak last year, Work Safe stepped up a lot of regulatory oversight and issued a lot of work orders that need to be resolved before we can open this season,” Malthus said.

After the upgrades are complete, Malthus said the club will begin to install ice in at the rink, a process that typically takes a 2-3 weeks. In addition to the the sensor upgrades, Malthus said the club will be installing a new ventilation stack in the ammonia storage room as well as a windsock and an eyewash station.

An inspector from WorkSafeBC will make additional visits to make sure each additional task has been completed.

Danny Dawson, a member at the club and one of the Sturling ‘Spiel’s organizers said annual Corporate Challenge — originally scheduled for Oct. 27 — would also be cancelled. Dawson said the club hoped to be ready for tournaments and league play by November.

“Obviously people enjoy the first few bonspiels, the doubles tournament has been a lot of fun, and we’re looking to reschedule that one for the end of the year,” he said. “It’s always a disappointment for people who like to get their feet wet in the first few bonspiels, but we’ll recover as best we can.”

On Oct. 17, 2017 an ammonia leak in the Fernie Arena caused the deaths of three arena employees. The tragic event led to increased scrutiny being placed on ammonia refrigeration systems in arenas across the province.

Earlier this summer, a 68-kilogram gas cylinder of ammonia being stored in a 20-foot green metal shipping container outside of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre experienced a massive failure, sending two men to the hospital from ammonia inhalation.

A subsequent inspection by WorkSafeBC found that there were multiple failures in how the hazardous material was stored at the recreation complex. These failures could result in the city paying a penalty.

READ MORE: Inspection report reveals multiple failures in Prince Rupert ammonia leak


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