Chlorine vapour at Calypso Waterpark sends 13 children to hospital
Excess amounts of chlorine at Calypso Theme Waterpark is being blamed for sending 13 children to hospital on Tuesday, August 7.
Park officials have confirmed that paramedics took 13 children to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), while one child was assessed at the park and released to a parent.
The children, who range from four to 14 years old, reported having trouble breathing and three suffered from symptoms including nausea, vomiting and airway irritation.
The children, along with several hundred other people, were in the park's wave pool at the time the event occurred.
Just after the incident occurred, park officials told media chlorine was not the cause of the illness in the children, but on Wednesday, August 8, the park admitted that it was.
An investigation carried out by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) revealed that the incident was caused by chlorine vapours that were emitted briefly in a specific area of the wave pool following a repair to the filtration system.
The health unit received and reviewed the technical report following the investigation conducted by Calypso Waterpark.
"We're confident that this was an isolated incident caused by a combination of atypical circumstances," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health. "The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is now working with Calypso Waterpark administration to ensure that policies and procedures are in place to prevent any similar incident in the future."
Roumeliotis added that the wave pool is currently operating safely, and there is no danger to the public. He said samples taken after the incident continue to indicate safe levels of chlorine and there have been no further reports of illness.
Roumeliotis said the health unit arrived on the scene shortly after being notified about the incident and has been working closely with the owners and operator of Calypso Waterpark to investigate the incident.
"As part of its public health mandate, the EOHU has been monitoring health, safety and water quality at Calypso Waterpark since its opening in 2010," Roumeliotis noted. "This is the first incident of this kind."
In a statement released by the park's public relations firm, Massy Forget Langlois Public Relations, and sent to The Review via e-mail, park officials said, "Calypso Theme Waterpark team extends its deepest apologies for the incident that occurred in the early afternoon yesterday."
The statement goes on to note that, "While this incident is regrettable, it had no serious effects on the health of those who were exposed, according to comments from CHEO. As of immediately, technicians have been given a new procedure to follow and must shut off all chlorine pumps whenever the filtration process is interrupted."
Park under scrutiny
According to the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), a provincial safety watch-dog which oversees the rides at Ontario's amusement parks, this isn't the first time the park has come under scrutiny.
Earlier this summer, a crash on one of the park's newest waterslides injured two men and left one with a fractured skull. The TSSA says this incident sparked a number of complaints and now it is reviewing Calypso's operating history more closely.
Wilson Lee, a spokesperson with the TSSA, said the inquiry into Calypso began in early July, after complaints from park attendees "came flooding in."
The TSSA investigation will look at previous incident reports from the park and the public, Lee said, to make sure that the statements line up. Every incident at the park related to an amusement ride must be reported in full, he said, and failing to do so could be a provincial offence.
On-site inspectors will be working at Calypso, he said, and the investigation will be independent. He noted the TSSA charges the park for every visit, which gives management "more incentive to comply."