Emergency Services officials and an RCMP officer confer inside the Collicutt Centre during its evacuation Monday.

Ammonia leak prompts evacuation at Collicutt Centre

An ammonia leak at the Collicutt Centre in Red Deer forced the evacuation of hundreds of people just before noon on Monday.

The Collicutt Centre is expected to open today following an evacuation that caused hundreds to flee from the recreation facility on Monday.

Red Deer Emergency Services platoon chief Randy Kidd said a maintenance crew was making a repair on the ammonia tanks in the ice plant when the crew ran into trouble and triggered an ammonia leak just before noon. Kidd said the crew was repairing a faulty part and there was no leak previously.

The facility evacuation process was enacted to ensure public safety. There were no reported injuries.

“(The leak) has been repaired,” said Kidd. “It was fairly simple to do. Now it’s just a matter getting the residual product vented. Being such a big building, it takes a long time to replace all the air in the building.”

Red Deer Transit was put on alert but their resources were not required. Most people left the area and others went to Hunting Hills High School. The Collicutt Centre was completely evacuated by 12:30 p.m.

Emergency Services crews including the hazardous materials teams spent several hours venting the residual product from the building.

Kidd said there was still a faint smell of ammonia in the building so rather than having people coming in and panicking, they felt it was more prudent to keep the facility closed overnight as a precautionary measure.

Red Deer Emergency Services crews will continue to monitor the air quality both inside and outside the facility as needed to ensure public safety.

“There’s no real problem with ammonia other than it being an irritant,” said Kidd. “Unless you are getting real high dosages and it is replacing your oxygen and you can’t breathe. The amounts in the building were just irritating. ”

Nearby Notre Dame and Hunting Hills High Schools were placed on alert but there was no evacuation.

The centre was scheduled to re-open at 5:30 a.m. today.


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