City of Fernie hopes to set example for small communities after report into fatal ammonia leak

Wed, Aug 29: B.C.'s occupational health and safety regulator has completed its investigation into an ammonia leak that killed three men at a Fernie arena in Oct 2017. Blake Lough reports.

Following the release of a WorkSafeBC report on Wednesday, the City of Fernie is working to do better going forward.

“This incident has been everything to us here at the City of Fernie, but we really do want to become the leaders of health and safety in smaller communities,” said Chief Administrative Officer Norm McInnis.

READ MORE: Fernie, refrigeration company face multiple citations in fatal ammonia leak

The ammonia leak on October 17, 2017 killed three workers at Fernie Memorial Arena, and as the city nears the one year anniversary, McInnis said the investigations into the fatal incident don’t get any easier.

“It was amazing how the community really did support each other in the community,” he said.

“Then we get the report in July and it kind of opens up some wounds.”

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READ MORE: Deadly Fernie ammonia leak caused by decision to operate leaky chiller: report

The WorkSafeBC report echoes a July report by Technical Safety BC which confirmed the contributing factors in the ammonia leak were a failed refrigeration system and poor ventilation.

WorksafeBC said the company that owns that system has been cited with two violations under the Workers Compensation Act.

However, a release earlier in the week from the city stated that the WorkSafeBC report didn’t point out any specific ways they could have prevented this tragedy.