Port Alberni’s hockey rink has been shut down indefinitely due to an ammonia leak in its brand new ice plant refrigeration system.
The city included funding in this year’s budget to help replace the Alberni Valley Multiplex’s almost 20-year-old ice plant chiller—a project that had been on the books for a couple of years. The new ice plant was installed in April.
However, on Sunday, Nov. 3, a low-level alarm was activated, meaning 25 ppm of ammonia had been detected in the refrigeration system. Accent Refrigeration Systems, the company responsible for ice plant maintenance, located a leak in a weld on a manufactured flange in the piping system.
City CAO Tim Pley admits that it is “somewhat frustrating” to have the failure come up so soon after replacing the chiller.
“We had been so proactive in changing it and making sure no service groups were disrupted,” he said.
Although the alarm was activated on Sunday, the multiplex was not shut down until Tuesday. Pley explained that a low-level warning does not require evacuation.
“[The alarm] never reached the high threshold,” said Pley. “It took longer than anybody expected to locate the leak.”
But Technical Safety BC issued an order that the multiplex ice plant be deactivated while the leak is repaired. Because of this, the Multiplex will be closed to all programs and services—including hockey games.
The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs were scheduled to play two home games this weekend against the Coquitlam Express and the West Kelowna Warriors. In addition, the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association (AVMHA) was scheduled to host its annual Midget Rep Tournament over the weekend.
The Bulldogs announced on Wednesday that the club is “optimistic” that Friday and Saturday’s home games will go ahead as planned.
“Public and player safety are our top priority and if the situation changes, we will update everyone immediately and make arrangements with the GO BCHL league office to reschedule these games,” added Bulldogs president David Michaud.
The club has stated that it will make “an official announcement” once a final decision has been made.
Pley said that there is a chance that the Bulldogs and AVMHA will be able to play this weekend, but it depends on the condition of the ice after the shutdown.
“There’s a chance we’ll be able to effect repairs and get the order lifted before the ice fails,” he said. “If there are no unforeseen challenges, we may be able to get that order lifted by today or tomorrow.”
He added that it’s “more likely” the ice will fail and break apart while the cooler is shut down. If this happens, the ice will have to be removed and new ice will be made—a process that takes about a week.