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Iceland Wins Extension By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday August 23, 2005

Berkeley officials granted Iceland a one month extension Friday to install a temporary cooling system and pump out 4,200 pounds of potentially toxic ammonia. 

“The city recognizes, based on the information provided us, that the extension is a reasonable request,” said Assistant Fire Chief Gil Dong. 

Last month Berkeley ordered Iceland to have a temporary cooling system in place by Aug. 22. Now the skating rink will have until Sept. 23 to install the system, which Iceland General Manager Jay Wescott said will cost about $100,000 to operate over the next seven months. 

Dong said Iceland will be allowed to use the temporary system through April 15, 2006, at which time Iceland must complete upgrades to its permanent cooling system.  

Iceland has contracted with Willy Bietak Productions to supply the temporary cooling system, which will contain 800 pounds of ammonia. The company has said that it had too many projects to install the system before Sept. 23. 

Iceland’s current system lacks key safety features and the city lacks the resources to handle an accidental release of 4,000 pounds of ammonia, said Dong. In the case of a major release, ammonia could harm residents as far as a mile downwind from the South Berkeley rink. 

There has been little progress on fixing the rink’s cooling system. Berkeley Building Official Joan MacQuarrie confirmed last week that the city rejected Iceland’s application to do the work and have yet to receive updated plans. 

“Once we get the temporary system up and running then we’ll move quickly getting the permanent system done,” Wescott said. He added that Iceland might have to shut down temporarily next April if cooling system upgrades are not completed.m