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Pool management supervisor talks pool care following chemical incident in Chesterfield

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 11:29 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - A frightening situation unfolded at a neighborhood pool in Chesterfield County Wednesday.

A chemical leak led to a hazmat emergency, with nearly 40 people needing treatment on the scene and at the hospital.

The incident happened just after 11 a.m. at Harpers Mill pool, off Otterdale Road.

Dozens of people got sick from swimming in the pool due to an unknown chemical issue.

According to Fire and EMS, all of the patients, 15 children, and 1 adult are expected to be okay, and the majority of them were discharged from the hospital Wednesday evening.

“They were complaining of feeling nauseated. There was some coughing going on, some respiratory problems,” Chesterfield Fire Lt. Kenny Mitchell said. “But the word non-life-threatening is always good to hear for everybody that was involved.”

According to the CDC, after exposure to dangerous concentrations of chlorine, people may experience nausea, coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

No one could confirm that the chemical in question at the pool was indeed chlorine.

“We do train our lifeguards to do the basic chemicals. We do leave the more harder chemical tests and everything to our upper management people who like to specialize in pool chemicals and pool pumps,” Siena Barnes, Swim Club Management area supervisor said.

While Swim Club does not manage the Harpers Mill pool, Barnes provided some insight as someone who is familiar with these chemicals and the pool systems.

“The lifeguards usually focus on chlorine and PH, and then you have like your other chemicals where we come in and test those, you know, every day once a week,” she said.

Swim Metro, the company that treats the pool in question, told NBC12 that the chemicals they typically use are sodium hypochlorite and acid for PH control.

Those chemicals are fed into the pool automatically through a machine. Barnes says sometimes pools can run into issues with the chlorine pump depending on how old the pool is. But she says to look for the sign outside the lifeguard office for daily chemical levels.

“Anytime you walk into a pool deck, look for that sign. Your chlorine, you want between like a one and a three and your PH usually. And when you see that sign and look at that, you know you’re in well-monitored safe swimming water.”

NBC12 reached out to Swim Metro, the pool company that treats this community pool.

NBC12 did not hear back with an update yet, but earlier in the day, crews said they will be assessing the automatic pump system in the pool to ensure a situation like this never happens again.

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