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Thread: 3 dead in Fernie NH3 leak.

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    Default 3 dead in Fernie NH3 leak.

    I don't have any details of what actually went on in the plant room yet, and I don't personally know the mechanic either to know his experience level working on NH3.. I use to work for that company, and we had "I <3 Nh3" stickers on our trucks.. its a good refrigerant, but you take zero chances with it. Doesn't sound like anyone was masked up...





    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/britis...aths-1.4359577







    Three people in Fernie, B.C., have died from possible exposure to ammonia after emergency crews were called to the Fernie Memorial Arena for reports of an ammonia leak just before noon on Tuesday.

    WorkSafeBC says it's believed the three were workers at the arena.

    In a statement, the City of Fernie says all homes and businesses in the downtown area between Ninth and 13th streets on Highway 3 and Sixth Avenue have been evacuated.

    "The site has been secured. However, crews are still unable to safely enter the facility," the statement said. "The evacuation will continue for residents in the evacuation area until the city is able to contain the leak."

    Local state of emergency

    Fire Chief Ted Ruiter said between 50 and 60 people are receiving emergency social services and could remain away from their homes and businesses for the rest of Tuesday night.

    The city, which has declared a seven-day local state of emergency, said residents in the evacuation area have been provided overnight accommodations.

    The city is asking people in the evacuated area to check in with emergency social services at the Senior Citizens Drop-In Centre at 562 Third Avenue.

    Fernie arena Facebook post
    The City of Fernie had posted this message to Facebook Tuesday morning: 'Notice: The arena will be closed today while crews complete emergency repairs to the refrigeration plant.' (City of Fernie/Facebook)

    'A tragic situation'

    The city said details about the victims would be released once they are identified and their next of kin are notified.

    "This is a tragic situation; families and friends are grieving and our hearts are with them we send them our thoughts and condolences," Minister of Labour Harry Bains said in a statement.

    "Like every British Columbian, my heart breaks for the loved ones of those involved and the entire close-knit community of Fernie."

    A ministry of labour spokesperson said counselling would be made available to family and colleagues of the deceased.

    WorkSafe BC on its way

    WorkSafe BC said it sent investigators Tuesday afternoon and more will be arriving Wednesday morning. RCMP are in control of the scene.

    The city said CIMCO Refrigeration is assisting city crews, but it is looking for "additional specialized resources to deal with the hazardous situation."

    Officials have not said if others were inside the facility at the time of the leak. Ruiter said there were no injuries in addition to the deaths.

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    Ammonia is commonly used in mechanical refrigeration systems, including those found in ice rinks. Ammonia is used in liquid form in these systems but becomes a gas once it is released into the air.

    The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says ammonia is a colourless gas that is very toxic if inhaled and can cause death.

    Symptoms of ammonia poisoning may include coughing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest. The centre also says symptoms may develop hours after exposure and are made worse by physical effort.

    In addition to being used in ice rinks, ammonia is used in fertilizer and to make plastics, fibres and other chemicals.

    Dealing with weather

    Earlier Tuesday, the City of Fernie had posted to its Facebook page that the arena would be closed for the day "while crews complete emergency repairs to the refrigeration plant." Fire chief Ruiter said it wasn't immediately apparent that ammonia was the cause of the emergency.

    Mayor Mary Giuliano said the city spent much of Tuesday dealing with widespread power outages and wind.

    "We have winds that are unbelievable. I've never seen winds like this in Fernie before," Giuliano said. "It's been quite a day."

    The fire chief said his crews were also receiving calls to deal with downed trees and power lines while the arena emergency unfolded.

    The Fernie Memorial Arena is home to the Junior B Fernie Ghostriders and is also listed as available for public skates and ice rentals.
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    That’s awful. Ammonia is super serious.
    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age."

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    I also use to work for Cimco as an apprentice in Calgary years ago. Sounds like it was 2 Cimco techs and an electrician that were on site. Not good at all. I had a very serious incident with only a few months in the trade and was only saved by pure luck, due to an improperly assembled receiver sightglass isolation valve from 10 years earlier. Ammonia is not forgiving and it might have simply been the wrong place at the wrong time as it was with me. RIP

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    My father works on Agrium's ERT for ammonia leaks across Canada, usually dealing with train derailment and truck crashes.

    Its serious shit. We actually just emptied a couple sample bombs we were using for fertilizing at the acreage, man alive just a little whiff will bother your nose and lungs.

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    My first job this morning was a plant with 4500lbs in it, definitely was a little more cautious than usual. Global news is whipping up fear of rinks, the gas charge in most rinks is a pittance compared to what's in the cold storage plants.
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    We service a bulk facility north of Red Deer. 20 loads a day...~100t of anhydrous per car. I've been out to the plant...it's nerve wracking, but they take it super seriously.

    Nasty stuff. I know one of our engineers that was around one car that derailed, said they cut and ran as quickly as they could...waited for the hazmat team to arrive. He still ended up puking his guts out just for an extremely short exposure.
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    NH3 is super dangerous. When liquid NH3 releases it will expand to gas and can fill a room quick. I heard the NH3 leaked into the brine system and thats what failed. 2 victims were overcome and the 3rd victim was attempting a rescue. RIP.

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    Bump
    WorksafeBC investigation report...
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    Thanks Max, that's quite sad and a strong reminder.
    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age."

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    I just watched that youtube vid a couple of hours ago before this post...(I was wondering why da hell is this on my recommended list..?).

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    Jesus I had no idea about this stuff. Sounds love a shit way to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxt View Post
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    Bump
    WorksafeBC investigation report...
    Speechless. I dont know if the ammonia alarm wouldve prevented anything but you gotta be pretty stupid to think its ok to put it on silent mode while repairs are being done
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    Speechless. I dont know if the ammonia alarm wouldve prevented anything but you gotta be pretty stupid to think its ok to put it on silent mode while repairs are being done
    Not only that, but re enter an area that was JUST registering 300+ppm without a personal alarm, or SCBA in close vicinity.

    Tragic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    Speechless. I dont know if the ammonia alarm wouldve prevented anything but you gotta be pretty stupid to think its ok to put it on silent mode while repairs are being done
    Keeping the alarm unsilenced wouldn't have solved anything - ammonia levels were above the alarm threshold the entire time work was being performed, so it just would have continuously blared. The alarm would have had no way to indicate levels were increasing, not to mention the sudden nature of the fatal leak would have killed them regardless of the alarm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vengie View Post
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    Not only that, but re enter an area that was JUST registering 300+ppm without a personal alarm, or SCBA in close vicinity.

    Tragic.
    It is tragic.

    But what is the worst is this will be held up as a reason as to why sites are so strict about PPE use, even though this has nothing to do with PPE. In a situation like this, I do not know anybody who would do what these people did. It was straight dumb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BerserkerCatSplat View Post
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    Keeping the alarm unsilenced wouldn't have solved anything - ammonia levels were above the alarm threshold the entire time work was being performed, so it just would have continuously blared. The alarm would have had no way to indicate levels were increasing, not to mention the sudden nature of the fatal leak would have killed them regardless of the alarm.
    The alarm threshold is set for a reason, if the alarm was still blaring while work was being performed it would have been a very loud reminder that PROPER PPE should have and needed to be donned in order to enter.

    Alarm's are built and programmed for a reason, disabling a safety device should never be the answer unless that device is physically being worked on. In that case a redundant layer of safety can and should be utilized.

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    Having worked with NH3 in a fertilizer plant, there are many many things that went wrong here from a safety perspective but the thing that i am perplexed about is the fact that there was no method to relieve the building pressure. There should have been some relief device(s) installed to protect against over pressure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spike98 View Post
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    Having worked with NH3 in a fertilizer plant, there are many many things that went wrong here from a safety perspective but the thing that i am perplexed about is the fact that there was no method to relieve the building pressure. There should have been some relief device(s) installed to protect against over pressure.
    I think the video said there was, as in the overflow tanks that were shaking and venting. It also sounded like one of the workers shut them off though to keep them from venting and shaking, therefore effectively removing the over pressure protection system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by My_name_is_Rob View Post
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    I think the video said there was, as in the overflow tanks that were shaking and venting. It also sounded like one of the workers shut them off though to keep them from venting and shaking, therefore effectively removing the over pressure protection system.
    Overflow tanks are a little different but could have been part of the over pressure system. At any rate, its sad for sure. Anhydrous Ammonia doesn't get the respect it deserves despite being pretty much as deadly as H2S.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vengie View Post
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    The alarm threshold is set for a reason, if the alarm was still blaring while work was being performed it would have been a very loud reminder that PROPER PPE should have and needed to be donned in order to enter.

    Alarm's are built and programmed for a reason, disabling a safety device should never be the answer unless that device is physically being worked on. In that case a redundant layer of safety can and should be utilized.
    The guys who lacked proper PPE were the guys who silenced the alarm in the first place. They knew there were elevated levels to begin with. I'm just saying while silencing the alarm wasn't a great idea, it was by no means the worst mistake made that day and did not directly lead to the deaths.

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