NEWS – Miscommunication led to fatal ammonia leak at ice making plant
The death of a worker at an ice making facility in Mount Paul Industrial Park last May was caused by a failure to remove ammonia from the refrigeration system before it was disassembled, a report released today (Jan. 26, 2023) by Technical Safety B.C. states.
The agency said there was a sudden release of ammonia when a ball valve was opened, resulting in a fatality, multiple exposures, a local evacuation and the temporary shutdown of nearby businesses.
It said those working on the Arctic Ice plant thought the ammonia had been emptied from the system before the valve was opened.
“Several contributing factors led to this incident, including miscommunication, staffing changes, and failing to involve a licensed refrigeration contractor to conduct a complete assessment for the presence of ammonia,” Technical Safety B.C. stated.
It said there had been changes in personnel and their assigned responsibilities, and miscommunications on the work done.
The sudden release of ammonia was “rapid and uncontrolled,” the report said.
The incident, which occurred May 26, 2022, involved the release of up to 1,645 pounds of ammonia into the atmosphere.
It recommended that, in future, a licenced contractor be engaged to check on the ammonia, that those who do regulated work be supervised by a qualified person, and that the Canadian Standards Association develop requirements for the disassembly of refrigeration systems and equipment.
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