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Delta Staff to Review Ammonia Refrigeration Systems

Oct 23, 2017

Office of the Mayor, City Manager, and Fire Chief

In light of the tragedy at the Memorial Arena in Fernie, the City of Delta wants to reiterate that Delta’s facilities are safe for public and staff. Our thoughts and concerns are with the families, friends and co-workers of the three individuals whose lives were lost at the Fernie arena due to an ammonia leak.

Delta has immediately scheduled a review of ammonia safe work policies and procedures along with Delta’s requirement for the appropriate personal protective equipment with all staff members. Staff has also liaised with Fraser Valley Refrigeration, Delta’s contracted refrigeration plant maintenance provider and has reviewed their related safe work policies.

"We are deeply saddened by the incident in Fernie," says Mayor Lois E. Jackson. "We sympathize with all of those affected and seek to do what we can to prevent this from happening in our community."

Delta's Refrigeration Systems 

The City of Delta utilizes ammonia as the primary refrigerant in each of its five arena facilities and follows governing legislation in respect to the safe operation and maintenance of the ammonia refrigeration. Both WorkSafeBC and Technical Safety BC perform periodical inspections in each of Delta’s arena facilities. All of Delta’s refrigeration plants have a number of safeguards that minimizes the risk to facility staff, users and those nearby. These systems include:

  • Dedicated rooms that house the ammonia equipment. These rooms have restricted access that is not accessible to staff without specific training.
  • Each ammonia room contains sensors and alarms that are set at minimal thresholds to provide warning of ammonia leaks. The alarms are both audible and visible outside the entry to the room.
  • The alarms are monitored by a third party monitoring system. When the alarm is triggered, emergency personnel are called to respond.
  • If a leak is detected, the sensors automatically engage an exhaust system that vents the ammonia through a vent stack from the room to the exterior high above the roof of the arena.
  • An anti-room separate from the ammonia room contains the control panels which allows for safe access to emergency equipment and controls.
  • Delta’s facilities also include a remote shutdown switch for the plant.
  • Maintenance activities in a refrigeration plant system also include a safeguard secondary isolation system to ensure that the ammonia charge contained inside the system is separated from a maintenance activity that may be occurring.
  • Operational checks are undertaken and documented in the log book by qualified staff every two hours in accordance with requirements by Technical Safety BC. 

Staff Training and Certification

Delta requires each operator and arena supervisor to have current certification to operate the refrigeration plant. In accordance with the Technical Safety BC regulations, at minimum, staff responsible for the ammonia systems will have an Ice Facility Operators certificate. In addition, each arena facility is required to have a chief operator which holds a higher level of certification. The chief operator is required to be on site 5 days a week and will typically be the Facility Operations Supervisor. In addition, refrigeration staff and supervisors undertake training and adhere to procedures.

"Delta staff are redoubling efforts to ensure the safe use of hazardous materials," says Delta City Manager George V. Harvie. "Delta staff is trained using best practices to ensure that our facilities continue to be safe for patrons and staff, alike." 

In addition to currently undergoing a safety audit of all ice facilities, Delta staff regularly undertake safety exercises with Delta Fire to ensure the safety of our workers and members of the public. 

In January 2018, the Delta Fire Department and refrigeration operations staff will conduct a unified mock ammonia leak exercise in an effort to ensure staff are ready should an incident occur.

For more information on this news release, contact the Mayor’s Office at 604-946-3210 or email, the City Manager’s office at 604-946-3212 or email, or contact the Fire Chief's Office at 604-946-8541.