Emergency personnel respond to a simulated ammonia leak at South Delta Recreation Centre on Jan. 18, 2018. (City of Delta photo)

Delta holds ammonia leak response exercise

Drill was prompted by the deaths of three people at Memorial Arena in Fernie, B.C. on Oct. 17, 2017

Delta first responders took part in a simulated ammonia leak at South Delta Recreation Centre this morning, prompted by the deaths of three people at a B.C. arena last fall.

The inter-agency emergency response exercise included participants from the City of Delta, Delta Fire, Delta Police Department, Fraser Valley Refrigeration, B.C. Ambulance Services, Technical Safety BC and WorkSafe BC.

According to a press release issued by the city following the drill, it provided an opportunity for Delta staff and stakeholders to practice their response and review emergency protocol for the safe evacuation and containment of a chemical leak.

The city planned the exercise after an ammonia leak at Memorial Arena in Fernie, B.C. on Oct. 17, 2017 claimed the lives of 59-year-old Wayne Hornquist and 52-year-old Lloyd Smith from Fernie and 46-year-old Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta.

The incident led many communities across the province, including Delta, to review the policies and procedures in place at their indoor ice facilities.

In today’s exercise, South Delta Recreation Centre staff began evacuation procedures by instructing building occupants to evacuate to muster stations on the east-side of the building. Neighbouring schools, businesses, and residences were promptly notified.

“We are encouraged by the results of today’s exercise,” Mayor Lois Jackson said in the press release. “It is our duty to ensure that all safety requirements for Delta facilities are met and that our staff members are as well-prepared as possible to respond to the unlikely event of a similar emergency.”

Nearby community groups, schools and businesses also took part in the exercise by reviewing their own procedures, and while the exercise did not require the initiation of an emergency operations centre, it did require participants communicate with first responders at the incident site.

The press release also stated that Delta continues to work actively with WorkSafe BC and Technical Safety BC to ensure the safe and effective operation of all its facilities, and that Delta’s contracted refrigeration plant maintenance provider has also completed a full review of ammonia safe work policies and procedures.

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