PLEASANT GROVE, Utah, June 12, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Pleasant Grove Veterans Memorial Pool will reopen Thursday after emergency crews were called out to an incident on June 4 when a pump malfunctioned, flooding the pool with chlorine that sickened many swimmers.
Capt. Britt Smith, with the Pleasant Grove Police Department, said the call reporting the incident came in at about 5:12 p.m. “Roughly 50 patients were transported,” Smith told Gephardt Daily at the time. “We don’t have an exact number because 26 people were transported by ambulance, and over 20 self-transported.”
In a press conference that evening, officials said victims’ symptoms included varying degrees of bloody noses, coughing, nausea, and vomiting, with some people in and out of consciousness.
A follow-up news release from Pleasant Grove City Wednesday, June 12 said: “We have heard reports that everyone that has been affected has been released from the hospital. We are hopeful that those affected will be able to have a full recovery.”
The news release explained that a routine check of the chemical levels in the pool at 4 p.m. June 4 determined that chlorine levels were low which prompted an assistant pool manager to check the filter on the recirculating water pump.
“After checking the filter, the assistant manager noticed that the pump had been tripped due to an unknown cause,” the news release said. “The assistant manager tried to restart the pump but was unsuccessful.”
A maintenance supervisor was called in and at 4:45 p.m. the pump was restarted, the news release said. During the time the water pump was off a control panel that distributes chlorine into the pipe kept operating. This caused the chlorine to back up. When the pump was restarted, the water pushed the excess chlorine into the swimming pool area.
“Once the chlorine entered the swim area it took a gaseous form and affected numerous people in a section of the pool,” the news release said. “Emergency services were called and seven different local EMS agencies responded. Those affected were evaluated at the scene. Those deemed more serious were transported to local hospitals. To our knowledge 26 people were transported.”
Pleasant Grove City has since purchased, and is in the process of installing, a new control box for the distribution of the chlorine, the news release said. This new box has built-in safeguards to prevent this from happening again. With the new control panel, if the pump were to lose power it would stop the chlorine from continuing to be pumped into the pipe. This would prevent large amounts of chlorine backing up and being introduced into the system once the water pump starts up again.
“We have worked closely with the Utah County Health Department to ensure that pool equipment continues to be in compliance with the State and County regulations,” the news release said. “They will inspect the pool once the new equipment has been installed to give us clearance to re-open the pool.”
It is anticipated the swimming pool will open for normal business on Thursday, June 13, for swim team, swimming lessons and open swim.
Officials said residents should check the pool Facebook page for confirmation of that opening date.
The news release also thanked the agencies that assisted Pleasant Grove City’s Fire Department in the emergency response, which were Lehi Fire Department, Saratoga Springs Fire Department, Orem Fire Department, Provo Fire Department, American Fork Fire Department and Lone Peak Fire Department.