The yellow box on the right shows the location of weld failures in the direct expansion chiller at the Alberni Valley Multiplex that led to an ammonia leak. (TECHNICAL SAFETY BC PHOTO)

Technical Safety BC releases Port Alberni ammonia leak report

Arena patron reported leak to TSBC two days after first detected, says report

Faulty welds that weren’t properly tested after manufacturing are to blame for the ammonia leak in Port Alberni’s multiplex ice refrigeration plant, a Technical Safety BC report shows.

The 60-page incident investigation report was released Thursday, Dec. 19 and made public on Friday, Dec. 20.

The ammonia leak was discovered at 6 a.m. on Nov. 3, when it activated an alarm in the ammonia detection system. The source of the leak was discovered on Nov. 5 and was determined to be coming from a crack in the welding inside the chiller portion of the refrigeration plant.

The plant was brand new, having only been installed in June 2019.

The City of Port Alberni waited for two days after the ammonia leak was detected before an arena patron finally reported it to Technical Safety BC. The city then shut down the Alberni Valley Multiplex.

“Technical Safety BC reminds equipment owners and operators that even ‘small’ leaks can quickly become very dangerous if the cause is not understood and effectively managed,” the report noted. “All ammonia leaks must be reported to Technical Safety BC within 24 hours of occurrence, as per the Safety Standards Act.”

The Multiplex was closed for nearly three weeks as the city, TSBC, contractors and the American manufacturer all tried to figure out what the problem was.

The Alberni Valley News has reached out to the city for comment.

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