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UPDATE: 1 dead after ammonia leak at Kamloops industrial site

The City of Kamloops confirmed the fatality in a statement on social media
First responders, including police, Kamloops Fire Rescue and the BC Ambulance Service are seen at the corner of Carrier Street and Athabasca Street East in the Mount Paul Industrial Park just before noon on Thursday, May 26. An ammonia leak was reported in the area around 11 a.m., with eight taken to hospital. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week)

– Kamloops This Week

One person has died and a number of patients have been taken to hospital following an ammonia leak in the Mount Paul Industrial Park in Kamloops Thursday morning (May 26).

A spokesperson with BC Emergency Health Services said one patient was transported to hospital in critical condition, while two were transported in stable condition and six others were stable and assessed by crews at the scene.

The City of Kamloops confirmed the fatality in a statement on social media.

“Public safety is our top priority - the scene is now stable and the evacuated businesses and other citizens can go about their business in the area,” the City said.

Interior Health said Royal Inland Hospital made preparations for casualties from the incident but could not provide any details about the incident itself, initially indicating eight patients had been taken to hospital. The hospital had been put under a code orange alert, indicating the potential for mass casualties.

Sarcee Road reopened to the public at about 1 p.m., with the Arctic Glacier building still blocked off by police. Kamloops Fire Rescue trucks left the scene at about 12:45 p.m.

A police officer told a KTW reporter on scene that all businesses from Absorbent Products, located at 724 Sacree St. East, onward had been evacuated.

The incident took place at Arctic Glacier, 790 Sarcee St. East, according to a police officer on scene. The company operates more than 100 facilities with 2,500 employees across North America, producing products like block ice, crushed ice and packaged ice.

Kamloops RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn said police were called to the 700-block of Carrier Street in the Mount Paul Industrial Park area at about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning in order to assist Kamloops Fire Rescue with traffic control and provide tactical evacuations in the area.

Responding crews included the Kamloops Fire Rescue hazmat team, multiple other fire and police crews, and five paramedic ground crews and two supervisors.

According to Health Canada, ammonia is a colourless gas with a pungent odour and exposure can have significant human health impacts. Breathing it in can result in nose and throat irritation, respiratory harm and even death. Contact with the skin can cause irritation and burns, while buildup of ammonia in the body can increase the risk of impacts on memory and other brain functions.

The primary use of ammonia is as a nitrogen source in fertilizers and it is used for a number of industrial applications, such as refrigerant gas or as an intermediate for the manufacture of plastics, textiles, dyes and other chemicals. The major sources of ammonia releases into the air reported to Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory include: water and wastewater systems, pulp and paper, chemicals and other manufacturing.

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