A leaky pressure relief valve on one of the Alberni Valley Multiplex’s three ice refrigeration plant compressors caused a temporary shutdown of the facility on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
At approximately 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 the City of Port Alberni posted a message on its Facebook page that the multiplex has been temporarily closed “while city staff and contractors explore the cause of inconsistent readings from ammonia detection equipment.”
“We have taken the step of cancelling three bookings scheduled for Saturday evening due to an abundance of caution,” Director of Parks, Recreation and Heritage Willa Thorpe said in a press release.
“This is a proactive measure to ensure the health and safety of staff and residents, and we regrets the impact to user groups.”
Technicians discovered that a pressure relief valve on one of the compressors “had been releasing trace amounts of ammonia into the ice plant room,” the city noted in an update late Saturday night. The faulty compressor was isolated and controlled, while the other two “are fully operational.”
The multiplex will reopen Sunday morning “and will resume its regularly scheduled programming,” according to the city.
“Repairs on the compressor No. 3 pressure relief valve will be completed in the coming days.”
This is the second time in two years the City of Port Alberni has been forced to close the multiplex due to suspected ammonia leaks. In November 2019 a low-level ammonia leak was detected in the multiplex’s ice plant refrigeration system, which was fairly new at the time. The city was criticized for not reporting the leak soon enough. An arena patron reported the leak to Technical Safety BC before the city did, according to a final report on the incident.
Cracks discovered in the ice refrigeration plant were determined to be the cause. The multiplex was closed for three weeks as a result of the 2019 leak. No injuries were reported.
Ammonia sensing equipment mounted inside the multiplex ice plant room began giving readings on Saturday ranging between zero and seven parts per million (PPM), according to Thorpe’s release. Handheld sensing devices used by city staff to confirm the readings have consistently shown readings of zero.
Contractor technicians and Technical Safety BC were both contacted because of the discrepancy in readings, according to the city.
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