Noisy Cooling System Imperils Iceland Rink By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 27, 2005

A compromise to keep Berkeley Iceland open hit a snag last week when the skating rink reported that a temporary outdoor refrigeration system the city ordered it to install would be too noisy for neighbors. 

“If we brought it in the way it sounds now, neighbors across the street would not be happy,” said Iceland General Manager Jay Wescott. 

City officials declined comment on whether Berkeley might close the rink if the temporary cooling system proved too noisy.  

In July, Berkeley demanded Iceland install a portable ice cooling system or shut its doors while the rink upgraded its permanent system.  

The Fire Department said that Iceland’s 65-year-old cooling system lacks safety features and contains too much ammonia—over 4,200 pounds—for the city to handle in the case of a major release.  

Last week Berkeley extended Iceland’s deadline to install the new cooling system two weeks to Oct. 7. Iceland has kept the system at a warehouse while engineers work to reduce noise. 

Wescott wouldn’t disclose the system’s decibel level, but said it was significantly louder than city codes permit.  

“I just know that right now it’s loud and we’re looking for ways to see if we can mitigate the noise level,” he said. 

Engineers are considering replacing the cooling fans to reduce noise, said Berkeley Toxics Manager Nabil Al-Hadithy, who has worked closely with Iceland on complying with city codes. 

“Dampening sound is more of an art than a science,” he said. “There are tools to kill noise, but there is no guarantee that the tools will work.” 

Under an agreement with the city, singed last month, Iceland has until April to complete upgrades to its permanent cooling system. The upgrades include reducing the rink’s ammonia capacity to about 750 pounds.f