Government & Economic Development and Public Safety and Government

State proposes fines over Indy pool that sent 71 to hospital

November 16, 2012

The state has proposed $14,250 in fines against Indianapolis after inspectors found six violations at a city-run pool where chemical exposure and fumes sent dozens of people to the hospital in June.

In a Nov. 1 noticed released publicly Thursday, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists six “serious” violations against Indy Parks and Recreation, which manages the Garfield Family Aquatic Center.

On June 21, an estimated 71 pool visitors and employees went to the hospital after over-exposure to toxic chemicals.

A separate investigation that Indy Parks conducted revealed that a chlorine-based chemical was continuously pumped for more than four hours into the two pools’ water system. Toward the end of the chlorination spree, the chemicals mixed with acid that was injected into the system.

A chemical reaction created a gas that leaked from pipes and harmed employees in the enclosed mechanical area.

The hazardous mixture then worked its way into the swimmer-filled pools, according to Indy Parks.

"The safety of guests at Indy Parks is always our top priority," said Indy Parks Deputy Director Jen Pittman in a prepared statement. "Indy Parks and Recreation is working with IOSHA to fully remedy these issues and is confident the fines will be eliminated once that process is complete. In addition to addressing the orders at Garfield Park, Indy Parks and Recreation also plans to evaluate all of the city’s aquatic centers and take corrective action as necessary before the facilities reopen next spring.”

IOSHA classified each of the six violations against the city department as “serious” after inspections ended in August.

The steepest individual fines that IOSHA has proposed are for $4,500.

Documents state the pools’ mechanical room did not have proper safety devices to keep chemicals safely balanced. The pool’s circulation system also had inadequate tubing that leaked and sprayed chemicals, which exposed employees to the hazard.

IOSHA proposed another $4,500 after finding electrical pumps in wet areas that were not properly grounded.

The remaining $5,250 in violations included:

— out-of-shape chemical-handling gloves with an unknown residue on them;

— inadequate emergency chemical-wash equipment for pool staff;

— an exposed electrical junction box;

— a broken cover for an electrical outlet marked “Acid Pumps Only."

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