1 dead after ammonia leak at ice-making facility in Kamloops, B.C.

·3 min read
The 700-block of Sarcee Street East in Kamloops, B.C., was shut down Thursday as crews respond to an ammonia leak in the area. (Marcella Bernardo/CBC - image credit)
The 700-block of Sarcee Street East in Kamloops, B.C., was shut down Thursday as crews respond to an ammonia leak in the area. (Marcella Bernardo/CBC - image credit)

One person has died after an ammonia leak Thursday at an ice-making facility in an industrial area of Kamloops, B.C.

The leak started inside the Arctic Glacier Ice building at 790 Sarcee St. East in Mount Paul Industrial Park around 10:30 a.m. PT.

About six people in stable condition were assessed at the scene, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

The Interior Health Authority says four people arrived at Royal Inland Hospital in relation the the incident. According to police, the one who was taken to hospital in critical condition has since died.

Interior Health says the others were treated as needed and released.

Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Ryan Cail told The Canadian Press that the person who died is believed to be a man in his 60s.

Marcella Bernardo/CBC
Marcella Bernardo/CBC

According to The Canadian Press, Cail says there was a malfunction with an ammonia bottle.

"The valve was dislodged, broke or malfunctioned. We're not aware of how it was discharged, but a large amount of ammonia was released," he said, adding that two other employees managed to escape the building.

"The details of how this specific individual was unable to get out are unknown'' and will be under investigation, he said.

RCMP, WorkSafeBC and the B.C. Coroner's Service are also investigating the incident.

Jenifer Norwell/CBC
Jenifer Norwell/CBC

A hazmat team with Kamloops Fire Rescue responded to the leak, as did WorkSafeBC. The industrial park is north of downtown Kamloops, on the other side of the South Thompson River.

Cail says crews didn't realize they were dealing with ammonia until they arrived to find a strong smell in the air.

"Crews learned once they got on scene that it was actually a cloud of ammonia that had escaped a bottle from the facility within the building," Cail told CBC News.

Chris Leader, who works about 200 metres away from the site of the leak, was having lunch in his truck when he says he heard a "pop" and saw a "great big" plume of smoke coming out of the Arctic Glacier Ice building. He said the smoke rose about 30 metres and was blown east.

He says he and his co-workers were told to evacuate as quickly as possible but weren't told how long they should stay away.

"[It was] a little scary," he said. "It was ammonia, and you know what that can do."

Google Streetview
Google Streetview

Ammonia is a colourless but pungent gas used in refrigeration systems, power generation and manufacturing.

Inhaling low concentrations of ammonia can irritate the eyes and respiratory systems, but large amounts can be deadly. Three people were killed by a leak while trying to fix ice-making equipment at a hockey rink in Fernie, B.C., in 2017.

RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn said most roads around the scene have reopened, except for the immediate area on Sarcee Street.

In a tweet, the City of Kamloops said the scene was considered stable, and people who were evacuated could "go about their business in the area."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting