pool, so we closed it ….
pool, so we closed it as a safety precaution. There was no chlorine or other chemical spill.”
But parents pushed back on that statement.
One father posted, “my son is at the hospital. He threw up several times and is now on oxygen. How can you say there was no chemical spill?”
All that day, however, Maplewood Township remained adamant that it was not chlorine, or any other kind of chemical, that sent so many children to the hospital, posting the following statement to their own Facebook page: Good afternoon Maplewood residents. Please be advised that there was not a chemical or gas leak, as stated on social media, at our swimming pool today. The result of the discoloration was from sediment/ dirt as a result of a brief malfunction of the pool filter.
The pool water is tested every two hours and has passed all tests. It will continue to be tested as we get ready to reopen tomorrow. The pool is currently closed due to weather and will remain closed for the rest of the day as we prepare for tomorrow’s re-opening.
The following day, the Township released a follow-up statement, allowing that due to the malfunction within the filtration system, some may have experienced the sudden smell of chlorine as the filter was restarted.
While noting that some children had been sickened, they did not specify why.
On June 19, in an email to Maplewood Community Pool members, the Township conceded that the incident had indeed been a chlorine overdose, stating: We previously mentioned that there was a malfunction in the pools filtration system.
More specifically, with the automatic level controller which controls the amount of water in the pool. This malfunction reduced the volume of water available for the filtration system and caused the recirculation pump to draw in air and shut down.
While this was occurring another feed pump continued to operate pumping chlorine into the piping system.
When the water level reached the proper elevation the filtration system restarted and the initial rush of filtered water into the pool caused liquid chlorine, at levels higher than normal, to enter the pool.
This confluence of events caused some members to experience various medical symptoms.
Maplewood Township resolved the matter at an Office of Emergency Management meeting held on July 22, where they reviewed both the events leading to the incident, as well as “to review and refine safety protocols and standard operating procedures related to the pool.”
Per the minutes from the OEM meeting, the township determined that they would call 911 if such an incident were to occur again – an action they did not take in the July 17 incident.
Furthermore, they resolved that emergency communications would be cleared by the Township Administrator. Such “Communications must be clear, factual, professionally prepared, sensitive and nondefensive.”