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State recommends measures to avoid fishing fleet accidents
from ammonia or Freon gas leaks


July 03, 2004

Juneau, Alaska - State officials are cautioning fishing fleet crews to observe safety procedures to prevent injuries from leaks of Freon or ammonia gas from onboard refrigeration systems.

In recent weeks, refrigeration system leaks of ammonia or Freon have caused workplace accidents and the death of a crewmember aboard a fishing vessel. The safety measures were recommended by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray cautioned, "Mariners know that if ammonia leaks from a refrigeration system it is toxic and potentially explosive.

"But Freon leaks can also be dangerous. Freon is heavier than air as well as odorless and colorless. If it leaks, it can displace the air in a fish-hold, bilge or engine compartment and suffocate a crewmember working down there."

Fishing vessel owners, skippers and crews are encouraged to observe safety procedures to prevent Freon and ammonia accidents, including these recommendations:

  • Install Freon or ammonia gas detectors in all areas of a vessel where refrigeration lines run.
  • Have Self-Contained Breathing Units (SCBA) on board the vessel.
  • Ensure that a crewmember has a SCBA close by if working alone in an area where refrigeration lines are run.
  • Train all crewmembers how to respond to Freon and ammonia leaks.
  • Train all crewmembers to work safely around ammonia or Freon refrigeration systems.
  • Salt water is highly corrosive so check refrigeration lines frequently to ensure good working order. If parts need to be replaced make sure they are.

Note: Freon is a registered trademark for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) manufactured and trademarked by Dupont.


Related news:

Coast Guard investigates deadly Freon leak...
June 29, 2004

Source of News Release:

Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Web Site



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