Members of the Courtenay Fire Department assist with an ammonia leak at the Comox Valley Sports Centre on Vanier Drive Thursday evening. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Ammonia leak triggers evacuation of B.C. hockey arena

The Comox Valley Sports Centre was evacuated Thursday evening while crews contained the leak

A Vancouver Island hockey arena was evacuated Thursday evening for just over an hour because of an ammonia leak.

Shortly after 8 p.m., the Courtenay Fire Department was dispatched to the Comox Valley Sports Centre at 3001 Vanier Drive as an alarm detected the leak.

Deputy fire chief Dennis Henderson said staff from the arena did a great job evacuating patrons from the facility which includes two arenas, a 25-metre pool, wellness centre and sauna.

“The (detection equipment) did what it was supposed to do and staff evacuated the centre. The cause of the leak is unknown but it was contained to one room.”

RELATED: Three dead after ammonia leak in Fernie, city says

He explained the ammonia was measured at 500 ppm at the time of the alarm.

Once the levels dropped down, a refrigeration specialist was able to enter the facility, and patrons were allowed to re-enter the building around 9:30 p.m.

There were no injuries reported.

The Comox Valley Regional district confirmed following an investigation, the issue was resolved and the facility is at full operations Friday morning.

The leak was discovered in a high pressure cut out at the safety monitor in the ammonia system.

“Our staff at the facility are well trained and responded to the situation immediately to ensure the safety of the public and staff,” said Jesse Ketler, chair of the Comox Valley Sports Commission in a press release.

“Because of the good decisions of all involved, this situation was quickly and safely resolved.”

The system was serviced in July 2019 and the CVRD confirmed maintenance is up to date. Technical Safety BC and WorkSafe BC will conduct a follow-up investigation, which is standard protocol anytime an ammonia alarm is triggered.

In October 2017, three people died following an ammonia leak at a hockey arena in Fernie.

Earlier this year, a brewery in Creston was evacuated due to an ammonia leak, while another leak shut down the Nelson Curling Club.

Ammonia is used in refrigeration – including most ice rinks – but becomes a gas once it is released into the air.



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Members of the Courtenay Fire Department assist with an ammonia leak at the Comox Valley Sports Centre on Vanier Drive Thursday evening. Photo by Erin Haluschak

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