Minn. Rinks Prepare for Change in Making Ice

Updated: 03/24/2014 5:55 AM
Created: 03/23/2014 10:02 PM
By: Tim Sherno

Ice rinks across Minnesota are preparing to go without a chemical used to make ice.

R22 is a gas used in the ice making process, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the gas damages the Earth's ozone layer. Production and importation of the chemical will end in United States in 2020, so rinks that rely on the gas are developing strategies to deal with the change.

Senator Amy Klobuchar has written the EPA requesting that the agency work with rinks and provide information to help navigate the transition.

Klobuchar says now is the time to prepare. "The question is how we get there and how we get there in the most cost effective way for these rinks because it can be very, very expensive to convert to the next kind of a refrigeration system," she said.

In her letter to the EPA, Klobuchar asks the agency to provide a roadmap for rinks as they transition, help avoid spikes in price as supplies dwindle, work to reclaim and reuse as much of the gas as possible, and suggest best practices for preventing leaks, which could delay a rink's need to transition.

Plymouth City Manager Dave Callister says converting two sheets of ice at the Plymouth Ice Center will be costly. "For us to switch over to the ammonia-based system, and away from the R22 would be about $1 million," he said.

Craig Flor from the Minnesota Ice Arena Manager's Association says the time to act has come, "what we're going to do right now is start to educate our management starting that process on what are you going to do? Do you need to do anything?"

The change doesn't require rinks to switch out the chemical to comply - some rinks may be able to function for years without needing to purchase any additional R22.

The existing supply will still be available until it's depleted.


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