Chlorine disables 11 at YMCA
Officials blame broken pool pump

By CHRISTINE GIRARDIN
Staff Writer

Last update: 07 August 2003


DELTONA -- What started as a morning of water aerobics classes in the YMCA pool ended with trips to area hospitals when 11 swimmers inhaled chlorine vapors.

Paramedics arrived at about 10:20 a.m. to find six adults and five children coughing and gasping for air, Volusia County Sheriff's reports say. A broken pump caused the chlorine to build up, authorities said.

The swimmers were taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, Florida Hospital DeLand or Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City. Most were not admitted, or were treated and released.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, two people remained in Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, but hospital spokeswoman Becky Niemann said she could not release their names or health conditions.

Several of Alex Roman's family members were among those affected by the chlorine. His daughter, niece, sister and mother-in-law were all sent to hospitals Wednesday morning and later released.

"They just went to do the swim aerobics stuff. That's it. They didn't get past that," Roman said.

The vapors affecting swimmers were the result of an electrical breakdown in the pump system. The pool stopped circulating water overnight, but small amounts of chlorine continued to build up in the pipes. The chlorine was then released into the pool all at once when the pump was started Wednesday, said Deltona Deputy Fire Chief Robert Rogers.

Volusia County Health Department officials said they don't know how high the chlorine levels were Wednesday morning when the pool opened. It does not have the equipment to test airborne chlorine levels, said Eric Maday, the Health Department environmental specialist who inspected the pool. That kind of chlorine vapor release is fairly rare, he added.

Although not frequent, similar incidents have forced pool closings in the past. At least 49 guests at Wild Waters in Silver Springs were taken to a hospital after a chlorine leak at the park's wave pool in 1999. In 2000, chlorine mixed with a swimming pool cleaner at a condominium complex in Deltona, forcing the pool to close. No one was injured.

The Deltona YMCA pool can reopen after the pump is fixed and inspected again, Maday said. That is expected to happen today, said Roger Hawkins, president and CEO of the West Volusia Family YMCA, the Deltona YMCA's parent organization.

christine.girardin@news-jrnl.com