Two people were sent to hospital after an ammonia leak aboard a commercial vessel at the Port Alberni Port Authority wharf on Monday, June 21, 2021.
The call sparked a hazmat, or hazardous materials response from the Port Alberni Fire Department. Crews were called at 3:25 p.m. for a report of an ammonia leak at the port authority on Harbour Road.
“We realized it was on a vessel,” fire Chief Mike Owens said. “We had one patient already at the roadway and being tended to by the first BCAS (B.C. Ambulance Service) car when we finally got the correct information.”
Crews helped assess a second patient who had also been exposed to ammonia through either a malfunction or inadvertent release on the vessel, he said. Remaining crew members aboard the vessel were evacuated and firefighters used gas monitoring equipment to ensure the vessel had been adequately vented before people were allowed to return to the vessel.
Owens declined to name the vessel, but said it was a large commercial vessel moored at Berth 1, on the south end of the port authority property. He did not know the condition of the patients who were transported to hospital.
Berth 1 at the port authority is usually moorage for the Raw Spirit and Sunderoey freezer trawlers owned by Independent Seafoods Canada Corporation (ISCC). The company could not be reached for comment.
“We wish those treated will have a full and speedy recovery, and we thank the first responders who attended and assessed the scene,” said David McCormick, port authority director of public relations and business development.
Owens said the department doesn’t receive many calls for incidents aboard vessels on the waterfront.
“It’s rare that we have issues on vessels where we actually have to board a vessel to assist. Hazardous materials incidents, although we do have some that occurred here…they’re infrequent at best.”
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