Firefighters were able to contain a small chlorine leak at the City of Penticton water treatment plant on Penticton Avenue within about 20 minutes.
The leak came as maintenance crews were testing the connections after changing over the tanks. The leak caused operations to shut down temporarily at the plant, but Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said fire and maintenance crews were able to contain the leak without incident.
“It ended up being a very minor situation,” he said. “Sometimes in those kind of situations it might look like more than what it is. It’s like when we get a report of a structure fire with smoke in the building. We send everything, like the full cavalry, right, and then once we get there and we start evaluating the situation and it ends up being nothing, then we wind it down.”
Captain Terry Lowe said containing the leak wrapped up within 20 minutes.
“Everybody’s fine, everybody’s safe,” he said. “Any type of hazardous materials we treat, right from the smallest leak to the largest, it doesn’t matter, bring the right equipment out. … We’ve got an ambulance down there as well on standby, even (at) the minor ones.”
Lowe said chlorine is “all in the same category” with materials like ammonia, which killed three people in a leak at the Memorial Arena in Fernie in October.
Watkinson said firefighters checked the equipment at the treatment plant, including the alarm, and everything checked out.
City engineer Ian Chapman said the leak came during a “routine activity,” and “once or twice every year or two something happens.”
“We have just changed procedures, and we have lowered the threshold at which we would call the emergency services,” he said. “It just happened that we triggered it this time, so we had the full bells and whistles response.”