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UPDATE: DECC reopens following ammonia leak, morning test finds no traces of chemical in public spaces

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12 P.M. UPDATE: Most of the DECC is back open Wednesday afternoon after an ammonia leak forced the convention center to shut down and evacuate Tuesday night.

The ammonia leak was first reported around 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

Officials say the chemical was leaking from the Curling Club's refridgeration system.

Authorities spent hours on site overnight, trying to mitigate the leak.

DECC officials say, as of Wednesday morning, firefighters found 0 parts per million of ammonia in publicly occupied spaces.

“Crews remained on scene for several more hours providing support to DECC engineers to ventilate the remaining spaces containing ammonia,” said Duluth Fire Department's Assistant Chief Dennis Edwards.

No one was hurt in the incident and officials say there never was a threat to the greater area.

Duluth Fire officials say they had just received a new piece of equipment that helped them handle this situation.

“Just last week the Fire Department obtained a new Chemical Assessment Team (CAT31), a heavy rescue hazmat response apparatus that was very helpful in our response last night. This is one of four of the new apparatuses in the state.”

Most of the DECC, including Marcus Theatres, the Vista Fleet, AMSOIL Arena, and Harbor Drive, are back open.


9:15 A.M. UPDATE -- As of Wednesday morning, Harbor Drive is re-open to vehicular traffic.

The Minnesota Slip Bridge has re-opened to pedestrian traffic.

Duluth Fire crews are on site and meeting with DECC staff to monitoring air quality.

The DECC remains closed and we will provide updates when they become available. 


10 P.M. UPDATE -- Duluth HAZMAT and fire crews have stabilized the scene and are still working to mitigate an ammonia leak that forced the evacuation of the DECC Tuesday night.

According to city officials, the leak was detected around 7 p.m. while maintenance was being performed inside the Curling Club.

They say liquid ammonia leaked from the Curling Club's refrigerating system, but as of Tuesday night, it is not spreading.

As of 9:30 p.m., the Curling Club, DECC, and Pioneer Hall were closed and evacuated. Harbor Drive is also closed to traffic and the Minnesota Slip Bridge is in the up position to prevent pedestrian traffic.

While they say there is no threat to the greater area, city officials are asking people to stay away to give crews space to do their jobs.

Officials say there have been no reports of any injuries.

According to the CDC, high levels of ammonia can irritate and burn the skin, mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes. Very high levels of ammonia can damage the lungs or cause death.

Fire officials say treating an ammonia leak is not like responding to a structure fire in that it takes a much longer, more drawn out response.

As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, they plan to ventilate the DECC overnight so it can be ready to operate again Wednesday.

Fire officials say they have spoken with the Curling Club and the DECC leaders, who say they plan to look to transition away from ammonia use in the future.

City officials plan to issue an update Wednesday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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UPDATE: Fire officials are calling it a chemical spill.

They say liquid ammonia leaked from the refrigerating system at the Curling Club.

A news conference is planned for sometime around 10 p.m. where city and DECC officials are expected to speak.

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DULUTH, MN — An ammonia leak inside the DECC’s Curling Club forced an evacuation of much of the property Tuesday evening.

According to city officials, the leak was detected around 7:00 p.m. while maintenance was being performed inside the Curling Club.

We’re told someone at the dog show reported an odor, leading to the investigation that discovered the leak.

No word on how it started or where exactly it is coming from within the Club.

Hazmat crews were on scene using special cameras to find the leak.

As of 8 p.m., the Curling Club, DECC, and Pioneer Hall were closed and evacuated.

City crews were in the process of closing Harbor Drive.

No injuries have been reported.

This is a developing story. We’ll bring you more details as they are made available.

Dan Wolfe

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