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Updated: Dangerous Ammonia Levels inside Ice Center Drop, Ice Center Reopening

By Potomac Local August 1, 2014 9:00 am

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Update

The Prince William Ice Center has been given the all-clear to reopen this afternoon, said General Manager Bill Hutzler.

DALE CITY, Va. -- A Skelton crew has been working to clean up the mess at the Prince William Ice Center after the building was evacuated Tuesday due to high levels of ammonia detected in the building.

General Manager Bill Hutzler said the process to remove all traces of ammonia from the ice rinks has been a long but successful one.

“We have to ventilate the while building and we’ve been dong that since Tuesday night, almost continuously, and we are down to very low levels of ammonia that are well below safety limits set by OSHA and other government organizations,” said Hutlzer.

Employees, visitors, and children who were inside the ice center were evacuated on Tuesday afternoon when high levels of ammonia were detected inside the building. The compound is used in the ice-making process and, just like in a kitchen refrigerator, removes heat from items that need to be cooled, said Hutzler.

The ice center uses a system that usually keeps the ammonia contained to the back of the building. A network of pipes under the ice pump a brine solution to help form the ice used for skating and hockey league play, and ammonia is the agent used to cool the brine, said Hutzler.

The Prince William Ice Center has been closed to the public since it was evacuated. Hutzler said he hopes to reopen his ice complex this weekend.

“We had excellent support from all of the county departments, from the HAZMAT teams, the police department, local government, and state government from top to bottom,” he said.

Crews working inside the building have been focused on removing the ice that is contaminated with high levels of ammonia, collecting it, and then preparing it for removal where it will be “neutralized” and treated off site.

Aware that ammonia is highly absorbent to water and deadly, fire and rescue crews in 2012 spent a day training at the ice complex for such an emergency. The drill conducted then provided a chance for emergency crews to hone their skills that are needed when responding to a HAZMAT situation like the one that happened Tuesday.

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