The city of Prince Rupert is confident that its ice hockey facilities are safe, even though the refrigeration systems used in the Jim Ciccone Hockey Arena use ammonia to keep the rink cool.
“The city would like to reassure the residents of Prince Rupert that the ice rink’s ammonia plant and boilers have undergone a recent external risk assessment,” said Veronika Stewart, the city’s communications manager. “And are regularly audited by Technical Safety BC…to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to maintain equipment and keep patrons safe.”
Ammonia is common in the mechanical refrigeration systems used in ice rinks similar to Prince Rupert’s, but exposure to the gas can be harmful. On Oct. 17, three workers were killed by an ammonia leak at the Fernie Memorial Arena in Fernie, B.C., which led to some questions about the use of those systems.
In an emailed statement, Stewart said that the ammonia plant for the city’s ice rink was moved to an outbuilding in 1995 and 1996, adding that all major components of the plant have been replace in the last six years. She said the equipment is audited on an annual basis, with the last audit being conducted on Oct. 17.
“In addition, our staff consistently reviews emergency protocols and procedures,” she said. “And an emergency evacuation drill with the entire recreation staff was conduced in August of this year.”
Stewart said the city sends its condolences to the family, friends and coworkers affect by the tragic incident in Fernie.