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Property Owner of Former Ice Rink Removes Ammonia from Refrigeration System

Work started a little earlier than the city was told. A report says the ammonia constituted an imminent hazard to those near the facility.

The Culver City Ice Arena, when it was open. Patch file photo.
The Culver City Ice Arena, when it was open. Patch file photo.
From a Culver City press release:

The city learned last week that the property owner, Mr. Karagozian, made the decision to decommission the Culver Ice Arena and thereby remove the ammonia from the refrigeration system.  

Mr. Karagozian retained PIC Environmental of La Verne, California, originally retained by Planet Granite to prepare a facility closure plan for review by the city.

Last Friday, March 7, the city approved the final closure plan prepared by PIC Environmental, and confirmed that the work will start under the city’s supervision on Thursday, March 13. 

Prior to learning that the property owner had made the decision to decommission the ice rink, in order to assure that there was no uncertainty in what needed to be done at the property, the city authorized its special counsel to retain an independent expert in ammonia refrigeration, Michael Dillon P.E., of Dillon Consulting Engineers, a Long Beach firm.  

Mr. Dillon has now issued his report, and the executive summary’s closing paragraph excerpted from the report is shown below:

In conclusion, the current ammonia refrigeration system constitutes an imminent hazard to any occupants within the building and to the neighboring community. The only two viable options for mitigating the risks associated with this system are either its immediate shutdown and decommissioning along with removal and proper disposal of the ammonia in the system and its associated equipment and piping, similar to what is proposed in the Facility Closure Plan of 7 March 2014; or the immediate shutdown of the system and removal of the ammonia preparatory to and in conjunction with a complete overhaul and upgrade of the system to bring it and the machinery room into compliance with current codes and standards. 

The City was also informed, through its legal counsel, that attorney Nadine Lewis no longer represents the property owner, Mr. Karagozian
Walter Lamb March 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Health and safety always come first, but what is not getting much attention is the fact that, if the rink really did pose an imminent threat, then the City's lack of an adequate inspection protocol put the residents in danger for at least the last several years. The only reason a more thorough inspection ever took place is because of the pending change in lease holder, not because anyone at the City had any concerns about the rink. So we ought to have answers to some basic questions. Exactly what inspection protocol was being followed and where did it come from? How is it being revised now and are those revisions being shared with other communities that have ice rinks, or perhaps with the State? Walter Lamb

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