October 7th Haz-Mat Accident
Update: November 11th.
Dear Valued Members,
GOOD NEWS! Thank you for your patience and support as we have worked to reopen our pools. We are excited to announce we have received final clearance from the Department of Public Health and the large lap pool as well as the small pool will reopen on Wednesday, November 16th, following standard hours.
I want to emphasize the effort that has gone into updating training, operating, and management procedures for our aquatics and maintenance department. Our staff has been working nonstop since the accident on October 7th to reset our pool operations and update all standard operating procedures. I am thankful to have had such committed people by my side.
I want to thank our members for their patience in our reopening. I empathize with the struggle not having a solid reopening schedule may have caused. The health and safety of our members, program participants, and children remains our top priority. Your patience while we awaited clearance from state and local inspectors allowed us to use every moment the pool was closed to strengthen our facilities, training, and procedures to support that priority.
I’d like to share a few key results and items we have put into action over the last month:
- Our automated chemical feeders have been replaced, calibrated, tested, and more by our commercial pool vendor and are on a regular schedule to support us.
- Our pool vendor has conducted extensive and repetitive onsite training for the YMCA Cape Cod team on multiple aspects of our pool mechanical systems and ensured systems are functioning consistently and within requirements. We have identified additional equipment for replacement and have a plan for replacement. Adjustments with constant monitoring and readjustments are taking place.
- YMCA of Greater Boston’s Aquatics Specialist, and our staff have finalized updated chemical guidelines, standard operating procedures (SOP’s), and extensive staff training.
- Several employees have successfully completed the CPO certification (Certified Pool Operator). Each of these employees have received an additional full day of hands-on training in the application of their certification to the specific chemical and mechanical systems used in our pools.
- We have worked our way through a comprehensive health and safety inspection checklist in all aspects of pool operations in concert with the State and Local health department. All items requiring us to re-open have been completed. We continue to work on additional items on a timeline in concert with our local Health Department.
Thank you again for your unwavering support. We are proud to be able to serve the Cape Cod community, and are so thankful to see your support of us. We can’t wait to welcome you back on Wednesday morning, November 16!
President & CEO
YMCA Cape Cod
Statement of Findings
On October 7th, seven children from YMCA Cape Cod’s after school program were transported to area hospitals for evaluation for respiratory issues that occurred in the pool area. Although the Y was given clearance that evening to reopen the pool, out of an abundance of caution, we closed the pool and began our own investigation into the cause.
We as an organization have been collectively devastated by this accident. We offer our most sincere apologies to all who have been impacted. Our first priority is the health and safety of our members and the children in our care. We have been in regular contact with the families impacted by this accident and have provided our full support to assist them through this difficult time. Out of respect for family privacy, we have not commented on the health status of the children. All seven children have returned to the after school program.
Based upon the outside investigation performed by aquatic safety experts*, we now believe the accident was caused by exposure to a noxious gas, brought about by a combination of factors that resulted in an accidental mixing of muriatic acid and residual granular chlorine inside the pipes of our filtration system. Our investigation was unable to find any evidence that the cause of this accident was a chemical spill.
How It Happened
- The automated chemical feeder system was not operating properly. We repeatedly requested repairs from several pool vendors who were not able to respond in a timely manner.
- As a result, we manually added these chemicals in order to keep pool water quality within acceptable ranges. The manual process had been done during the times the pool was closed.
- Industry standard for manual dosing is to close the pool, dilute the chemicals, and add them directly into the pool. The pool is then to remain closed for one hour. This process would repeat until pool water quality is within acceptable ranges.
- On October 7th in the morning, granular chlorine was added into the filtration system. Later in the day, muriatic acid was added into the filtration system. It is now believed the granular chlorine had not yet dissolved inside our filtration system. When the two chemicals mixed, noxious gas was released into the deep end of the pool where the seven children were swimming.
Steps we are taking to ensure safety moving forward
- The automated pool chemical feeder system has been repaired as of October 20th.
- Moving forward, anytime a manual dosing is needed the pool will be closed.
- The pool service provider will conduct additional onsite training for the YMCA Cape Cod team on the automated chemical controller and chemical dosing system.
- YMCA Cape Cod has partnered with YMCA of Greater Boston’s Aquatics Specialist, and are actively working on development of updated chemical guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP’s).
- Several employees will become CPO certified (Certified Pool Operator).
What are the next steps to reopen the pool?
We will be submitting our findings to the State and Local Boards of Health. We will need their full clearance before determining a date and time of the pool reopening.
For those looking for swimming options in the meantime, the following local pools allow public swimming.
- Gleason Family YMCA, Wareham (free with YMCA Cape Cod membership) ymcasouthcoast.org/locations/wareham/
- Atlantis Sports Club, atlantissportsclubs.com/atlantis-hyannis/
- Willy’s Gym, Eastham willysgym.com/aquatics
- Aqua Safe of Cape Cod, At Sandwich High School, Sandwich aquasafecapecod.com/adult-swim-workouts
We are offering account credits for fees associated with using other pools. Please provide receipts to [email protected] and we will be happy to credit your account. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Please direct follow up questions to [email protected] or 774-994-7670