PLEASANT GROVE (ABC4 News) – City officials said Veterans Memorial Pool will be closed through Thursday as they continue their investigation into the cause of the chlorine spill that sent dozens of people to the hospital Tuesday.
Pleasant Grove Police Department responded to the Veterans Memorial Pool at 582 East 300 South just before 5 p.m. Tuesday on what was initially reported as a chlorine overdose.
“When we responded, we quickly determined that it was a mass casualty critical incident—just meaning that we had multiple victims,” said Captain Britt Smith of the Pleasant Grove Police Department.
Officers began patient care, and the pool was evacuated almost immediately, according to Smith.
About 26 patients were transported to the hospital with symptoms ranging from nosebleeds, coughing, nausea, and vomiting. At least 20 more “self-transported” to seek medical attention on their own. Ages of the patients range from small children to adults.
Bryce Larsen, environmental health director for the Utah County Health Department said public pools have to pass 28 criteria in their inspection before they can open for business.
“It’s a lot of things. It’s making sure the mechanical equipment is in good working order, the chemicals in the pool are balanced, and checking on the disinfectants to kill the bacteria that cause diseases,” said Larsen.
He said Veterans Memorial Pool passed its pre-season inspection on May 17th as well as its second inspection conducted by health officials Wednesday following the chlorine spill.
“This was an unforeseen event. I think this was just something that happened,” said Larsen.
Health officials recalled only one other similar incident occurring in Utah County in recent years when Seven Peaks was evacuated in June 2017 because of a faulty chlorine jet that sent one child to the hospital.
“It doesn’t happen very often, thankfully. The public can feel safe going to the pools, knowing that they’re inspected regularly and that we’re addressing issues as they come along,” he said. “Another nice thing that would give the public peace of mind is that state law requires a certified pool operator to be on-scene all the time, training their employees. If there’s any concerns, they should contact us, which they do.”
When asked if there were any precautions or safety tips the public could follow to avoid falling victim to an incident like this, Larsen said no.
“There’s nothing else they can really do. It was just an extremely unfortunate incident and we as a health department take pride in working behind the scenes to inspect and make sure everything is okay,” he said.
For patients who will incur medical bills as a result of Tuesday’s incident, Pleasant Grove City Administrator Scott Darrington encourages them to file a claim.
“The city is insured. They can come to city hall, meet with our city recorder, and file a claim to our insurance,” said Darrington. “Our goal is to prevent this from ever happening again.”
In a statement posted to Pleasant Grove City’s FaceBook page, officials said the Veterans Memorial Pool will be closed through Thursday as the investigation continues.
” The City is in the process of installing some fail-safe mechanisms in order to prevent a similar incident in the future. We anticipate providing details in our update tomorrow (Thursday),” the statement said. “We would once again like to express our concern for the individuals affected. Their health and recovery are the top priority right now. Our thoughts are with them and their families. Pleasant Grove City is not privy to personal medical information for individuals and can’t provide any updates on their current health status.”