Arena Upgrades after Ammonia Leak at NDCC

The Nelson and District Recreation Commission has approved upgrades to refrigeration safety systems and replacement of the Nelson and District Community Complex (NDCC) arena condenser after an ammonia leak on April 21 injured a worker and shut down the arena for several hours.

"I’m glad to report that our staff member who was injured is doing fine now and didn’t have to take time off work. The arena is still functioning well because we have isolated the leaking coils in the condenser, but this is a temporary fix," said Marty Benson, Manager of Recreation for the NDCC.

In 2014 the recreation commission approved $130,000 in upgrades that were to take place during a 2015 summer shutdown. That money will now be redirected to replace the condenser tower, upgrade the safety relief system, and add three ammonia sensors on the outside of the arena. An existing ammonia sensor is located in the compressor room to shut down the arena air handling unit in the event of a leak or emergency. The project cost for the condenser replacement and safety relief system upgrades is estimated at $150,000 and will go to tender this week. The new ammonia sensors have already been ordered at a cost of $12,500.

The NDCC has consulted with refrigeration experts and is cooperating with the BC Safety Authority to establish the physical and mechanical causes of the leak.

"Close inspection and dismantling of the condenser is expensive. While in theory we might be able to repair it for around $100,000, once you add in the high risk of another failure, replacing the entire unit now makes much more economic and operational sense," said Benson.

Condenser coils can’t be inspected until shutdown on May 19 when ice will be removed from the complex until late July.

A four-person investigation team from the RDCK is cooperating with WorkSafeBC and the BC Safety Authority to review the ammonia leak incident. The RDCK will then review all recommendations and work with WorkSafeBC and the BC Safety Authority to implement appropriate measures.

“All our arena operators have either their Fifth Class Power Engineer or Ice Facility Operator certification and are trained in refrigeration operation. They follow established safety protocols in the case of an emergency,” said Benson.

Ammonia is primarily an irritant and removal of a person from exposure normally provides sufficient relief and recovery. During the leak, ammonia levels in the facility and around the arena were at very low concentrations.

For more information:
Marty Benson
Manager of Recreation
(250) 354-4386

Stuart Horn
Chief Administrative Officer
Regional District of Central Kootenay
(250) 352-8152

The content on this page was last updated May 5 2015 at 2:22 PM