Some residents in Victoria received a brochure in the mailbox Thursday that read, “Managing Major Industrial Accident Risks, Anhydrous Ammonia.”
“It says I’m in a potential impact risk zone,” says a concerned Fernwood resident, David Boudinot.
Anhydrous Ammonia is a colourless gas and is used as a refrigerant by industries, including Island Farm’s facility off Blanshard Street.
The brochure from Agropur Cooperative outlines the health impacts of exposure to ammonia, steps to avoid exposure and how they’re managing potential risks.
Some Victoria residents, however, are asking why they’re receiving this and why now?
“My initial thought was what if there’s an earthquake? What if there’s some other kind of natural disaster that would impact the whole region? If there’s a leak of ammonia they’re saying to avoid inhaling any of the toxic substances and get inside, but if that’s not possible that’s a great concern,” says Boudinot.
According to the Government of Canada website, facilities that use ammonia or similar substances have been required to send out these notifications since 2019, but this is the first time Boudinot is hearing about it.
The Agropur brochure reads “Agropur is constantly and rigorously reviewing its security procedures. They are applied in a way to reduce the risk of occurrence and the consequences of an accident involving ammonia.”
The potential impact area covers much of Victoria, including the city’s fire halls.
Victoria’s Acting Fire Chief says if an emergency were to happen they’ll receive notifications at the same time as the public through Vic-Alert.
While that may seem alarming, it will actually give them a head start on how to best respond.
“This is going to allow us to have a higher level of situational awareness as to the scope and the nature of the emergency first hand from the people on the scene at Agropur. It will actually enhance our ability to respond more safely,” says Dan Atkinson from Victoria Fire.
Those in the impact area are encouraged to register for Vic-Alert. In event of a risk situation, an alert will be issued including information on the correct actions to take and the scope of the risk.
“The risk is extremely low,” says Atkinson. “We want to make sure the public feel safe and let them know that we’re working with all our industry partners to make sure that the proper notifications are going out and let them know that the proper training and emergency services are in place if something happens.”
CHEK News contacted Agropur for further information but they did not respond in time for broadcast.