A faulty pool pump caused a chemical incident at New Zealand’s Levin Aquatic Centre on October 28, after chlorine and sodium bicarbonate had been mixed together but could not be dispersed according to emergency officials and the council’s facility manager.
Chris Kennedy, from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, told 1News that the reaction created a vapour cloud and fumes spread inside the centre, affecting 32 people including one person who needed to be taken to hospital in Palmerston North. However, 1News believed that person was suffering from an unrelated condition.
The reaction made it difficult for customers and staff to breathe, and staff immediately evacuated the centre.
Horowhenua District Council community facilities manager Brent Harvey said the incident was caused by a faulty pump.
“The chemicals were put into an area and the pump was not working, which caused them to sit there and cause the odour and react,” he said. The faulty pump meant the chemicals could not be dispersed into the pool water.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand neutralised the reaction by waiting for the chemicals to stop reacting before tipping them into the pool to dilute them. The pool reopened the next morning. WorkSafe had been notified about the incident and an investigation is being conducted.
“We will be ensuring our processes are robust to minimise the chance of this happening again,” said Harvey.