Opening the Township Committee’s Meeting on July 20, Mayor Frank McGehee gave an update regarding the events that transpired at the Maplewood Community Pool in the afternoon of July 17, reflecting an evolving response from Township officials while reassuring the public that there would be further investigation.
“A malfunction of our pool’s automatic level controller in the filtration system resulted in the sediment release, sudden smell, and liquid chlorine discharge, causing some members to experience various medical symptoms,” he began.
Township officials initially reported that “there was no chlorine or other chemical spill,” in social media posts on the day of the incident. In an email to pool members on July 18 the township noted that “some smelled a strong odor of chlorine” and that children were sickened but did not specify why.
On July 19, the township first mentioned in an email that there was a “liquid chlorine discharge” and “levels higher than normal” of liquid chlorine.
As reported by Village Green, parents had reported their children suffering symptoms consistent with excessive chlorine exposure after smelling a strong chlorine odor at the pool sometime after noon on July 17. The smell happened around the time when the jets in the pool were reported to push out a sudden burst of gas and bubbles and a greenish, brownish plume appeared in the end of the main pool by the ramp. Parents reported children coughing, vomiting, having trouble breathing, acting lethargic and experiencing blue lips. Several parents took their children to area emergency rooms and urgent care centers, with one child being admitted overnight (the child has since been discharged).
On July 20, the mayor explained the measures that have been taken to rectify this issue, saying, “Key township officials and our health officer have been actively involved in the situation, and we are working with a third party contractor, CFM, on a retrospective, to identify and resolve the cause of the malfunction.”
To further work with the community, the mayor requested that the Maplewood emergency management coordinator set up a meeting to discuss the emergency protocols at the pool, and enhance the operational process. (The meeting was held on July 22; Village Green is following up.)
McGehee ended his statement by assuring to those in attendance where the town’s priorities lie. “I’ve personally spoken to or been in contact with some of the families impacted, and want to express to everyone that safety, health, and wellbeing of our residents and visitors is always first and foremost.”
The Village Green continues to follow the story.