A hairline fracture in the Jasper Arena’s new ice plant was determined to be the cause of an ammonia leak which shut down the Jasper Activity Centre two weekends ago.
On October 14, with one minute left in the U13 Jasper Bears’ game versus Drayton Valley, Jasper emergency responders, including RCMP officers and Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade members, evacuated the building as a precautionary measure. An ammonia leak had been detected in the ice plant.
Ammonia is classified as a toxic substance and can cause severe injuries or death for people that come into contact with it.
Pyramid Lake Road was closed between Colin Crescent and Bonhomme Street in both directions. The leak was repaired and the rink was operational the next day.
At the Tuesday, October 24 committee of the whole meeting, Jasper’s Director of Community Development, Christopher Read, answered councillor Ralph Melnyk’s questions about the ammonia leak at the plant, which has recently been rebuilt with a price tag of “between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on what you want to include,” Melnyk noted.
“An ice plant going down prior to a tournament could have a $40-$50,000 negative impact to the community in revenues,” Melnyk said. “What did we learn and what are the steps moving forward, preventatively?”
Read responded by explaining that two separate ammonia leak incidents took place between October 7 and 14, the first of which occurred because the plant was “out of torque specifications.” As a result of the ice plant’s initial ramp-up, and the plant experiencing increased temperature cycling, Read explained, sometimes an ice plant’s nuts can get loosened. This is what happened on October 7, when the curling ice was being made. When the first leak was discovered, the out-of-torque nuts were quickly tightened and the leak was mitigated, Read said.
The second incident occurred potentially because of all that tightening—or potentially not, Read said; the hairline fracture in a steel pipe may have been a manufacturer’s defect. Either way, the cracked pipe was the source of the leak. After the all-clear was given, the ice plant technician replaced the part and completed a full system over-check, Read said.
“It’s a new system that is getting its bugs worked out,” Read told council. “I’m confident we’re getting a good level of service and I’m confident there are no safety issues.”
Dressing Rooms on track
Ice time schedule-makers at the arena are also working out the bugs, but come November, with the addition of four temporary dressing rooms, the hockey season should take on some semblance of normalcy.
Read updated councillors on the pending acquisition of two modular buildings (each split to accommodate two teams) to stand in as dressing rooms while the Jasper Activity Centre undergoes its $20 million renovation.
“The dream is for them to be in service before the end of November,” Read said.
No minor hockey tournaments are scheduled in the meantime, but come December, Jasper will once again have the ability to host out-of-town tournaments. The temporary dressing rooms are a solution which Tourism Jasper has helped stickhandle for local ice users while the new rooms are constructed. The modular buildings, which will be located adjacent to the Pyramid Lake Road entrance to the Jasper Arena, will serve not only tournaments but local league play as well.
“It’s a real win-win that tournaments can be here but also that residents can gain access to change rooms,” Read said.
Bob Covey // firstname.lastname@example.org