Thirty-one people were hospitalized following a chemical exposure incident at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown in Spring, Texas. The incident occurred on July 17, affecting over 100 people, 55 of whom refused transport to area hospitals. Officials said that those affected were decontaminated prior to being allowed to leave the park.
Authorities evacuated the park that afternoon, and one person was in critical condition that evening, Rachel Neutzler, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, told The New York Times.
However, the Montgomery County Hospital District reported that all patients are stable and expected to be OK.
According to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, the chemicals involved included a hypochlorite solution and 35% sulfuric acid.
Neutzler said that bleach and sulfuric acid were both used to help keep pools clean and to maintain a balanced pH but that investigators “are looking into the system that injected these chemicals in the pool to see if there was a malfunction or not, but that’s still under investigation,” The New York Times reported.
The exposure occurred at the kiddie pool. Officials said a lifeguard was the first to become sick, followed by dozens of guests.
At least one woman has sued the waterpark over the chemical exposure. The suit, filed in Harris County state district court on July 19, said that Amanda Regulus had brought her three children to the park and all four of them experienced headaches, skin irritation, and sore throats from the exposure. Furthermore, the suit says that the park’s staff didn’t inform visitors of the leak until about an hour after it had occurred and actually delayed the evacuation process by asking visitors to take part in a promotional contest before leaving. Regulus is seeking up to $1 million in damages. Her lawyer, Dereck Potts, said he has been hired by other families as well.
“All of our clients are very distraught over what occurred and by having themselves and their children exposed in such an unnecessary and negligent way to such dangerous chemicals,” Potts said.
The park remained closed for days following the incident as the Harris County public health department and the fire marshal’s office continued to investigate. The agencies were inspecting and testing pool systems to try and determine the cause of the leak.
Six Flags released the following statement: “The waterpark will be closed Sunday, July 18 and Monday, July 19 to permit a thorough investigation into yesterday's incident.
“Preliminary findings indicate there was a vapor release in a small outdoor section of the park that quickly dissipated. We are working hand in hand with Harris County Public Health officials, along with third party industry experts, to determine a cause, and we will reopen when we are confident it is safe to do so.
“It is our understanding that all impacted guests and team members have been released and are back home.
“The safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority.”
Six Flags water park said the cause of the chemical exposure was identified, but it was not revealed.
“Our team, along with third-party experts, has identified the cause of Saturday’s vapor release, and we are putting solutions in place to avoid a recurrence,” the statement read. “We will provide additional information once we are ready to safely resume operations. Water and air samples taken the following day returned with acceptable limits.
Photo Credit: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, Spring, Texas