City's Conclusion: Arena Isn't Safe
By Lynne Bronstein
The Culver City Manager and the Fire Department released a status report on March 10 on the conditions at 4545 Sepulveda Boulevard, better known as the Culver City Ice Arena.
The report on the environmental safety hazards of the facility, which its owner, Michael Karagozian, closed last week, concludes that "the current ammonia refrigeration system constitutes an imminent hazard to any occupants within the building and to the neighboring community."
The report, commissioned by the city of Culver City, was prepared by an independent expert in ammonia refrigeration, Michael Dillon, P.E. of the Long Beach firm Dillon Consulting Engineers. It documents in detail the system used by the ice arena and the hazards that he found therein.
..."[T]he property contains significant quantities of anhydrous ammonia refrigerant, calcium chloride cooling water, propane fuel, capella lubrication oil, and hydraulic oil. Additional contaminants may include chromium, which was apparently added to circulating cooling water, acidic and alkaline cleaning agents, zinc, and other metals which may have leached into ice or soil from deteriorated piping."
There may also be subsurface contamination from hazardous chemicals leaking into the drainage pits and sumps at the southern corner of the building.
The report then lists 12 steps (labeled a through l) for removal of the hazardous substances and decommissioning the arena. All steps call for the use of a "licensed contractor" to perform the tasks.
The enclosed timeline for decommissioning runs from the present until "June 2014 or later."
Dillon's report also contains written documentation of research on hazardous substances, his own curriculum vitae to support his qualifications, and an "executive summary" in which he states:
"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.....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."
Karagozian retained PIC Environmental, originally retained by the short-lived lessee of the property Planet Granite, to prepare his facility closure plan for the city. That plan was approved on March 7. Work on the facility will begin on March 13.