August 31—Seattle Fire Department Hazardous Material Team responded to Fishermen’s Terminal Thursday afternoon for reports of an ammonia leak. The first firefighters on scene confirmed ammonia was leaking from a 178 foot fishing processor that was docked at the terminal.
The Seattle Fire Department set up a 500 foot safety perimeter around the vessel to ensure the safety of the public. As a precaution, crews set up hose lines around the vessel.
The leak is coming mid-ship from the port side from one deck below the main deck in a blast freezer. Crews performing minor repairs on the vessel accidentally ruptured an inch-and-a-quarter gas line. The owner of the vessel determined the gas line was attached to a tank with 500 pounds of ammonia.
The Seattle Fire Department’s Hazardous Material Team made entry into the processor and found extremely high levels of ammonia gas inside. Air monitor readings outside the vessel remained at safe levels. The leak was located in tight quarters that were inaccessible by firefighters in their Haz-Mat suits.
Due to their expertise on confined space firefighter operations, the Technical Rescue Team was brought to the scene to consult on a plan to seal the leaking pipe.
Incident commanders decided to use high powered fans to ventilate the vessel of the ammonia gas before attempting to seal the leaking pipe.
The ventilation process continued throughout the night and into the morning hours. The Environmental Protection Agency brought out air monitoring equipment to check the air quality around the vessel.
On Friday afternoon August 31, the Seattle Fire Department Haz-Mat Team returned the vessel and determined air quality levels outside the vessel were safe. The Seattle Fire Department turned incident command over to the United States Coast Guard.