The ice rink at the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre. The facility has been temporarily closed after staff confirmed the presence of an ammonia leak Sept. 16. (Thom Barker photo)

Upper Skeena Recreation Centre evacuated after ammonia leak detected

The leak was related to refrigerators responsible for ice maintenance of the skating rink

UPDATE: As of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the USRC has been re-opened, with a notice posted to its Facebook page thanking staff and all the others who helped in getting the leak fixed so quickly.

The Upper Skeena Recreation Centre (USRC) was temporarily closed after staff confirmed the presence of an ammonia leak Monday.

Speaking to The Interior News, Curtis Slingerland, Manager of Regulatory Services with the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, confirmed that staff at the centre were alerted to an ammonia leak at the centre on Monday.

“Staff at the [USRC] were alerted to a leak of ammonia related to the refridgerations responsible for ice maintenance [of] the skating rink.”

READ MORE: Upper Skeena Recreation Centre officially opens

An inspection of the system revealed a seal issue and all necessary precautions were taken, including an evacuation of the building.

No injuries were reported, and Slingerland said there is no risk to the public.

He said staff are currently working with Technical Safety BC to resolve the issue and that a technician, dispatched from Edmonton, will arrive at the centre today.

“We hope to reopen the facility later this week after repair works have been implemented.

“It’s a really small leak, so it’s under control and we’re just taking every necessary precaution to avoid any larger issue.”

According to WorkSafeBC, at a low concentration, exposure to ammonia can cause irration to the eyes, nose and respiratory system.

At a high concentration, it can be fatal within a few breaths.

The USRC was officially opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 14.

Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine, Phil Germuth, chair of the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine and Alice Maitland, former long-time mayor of Hazelton were among those in attendance.

The state-of-the-art, 54,000 square-foot facility cost $20 million and was more than 10 years in the making.

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