Chemical Incident At Swim School Sends 11 To Hospital

By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — Eleven people were sent to the hospital as a precaution after they were exposed to chlorine at a local swimming school.

It happened around 3 p.m. Sunday at the Foss Swim School located inside Knollwood Mall in St. Louis Park.

More than 40 children and adults complained of breathing problems as a result of chlorine exposure and were treated at the scene.

It depends on who you ask, what answer you’ll get, to know what happened in the pool at the Foss Swim School.

Three people connected to the incident tell three different stories.

St. Louis Park’s Fire Chief said his crews arrived to find people having problems breathing.

“When we arrived we found about 40 to 50 people that were complaining about, they were coughing, complaining about respiratory problems and very symptomatic to some type of chlorine problem,” said St. Louis Park Fire Chief Luke Stemmer.

Stemmer said upon further investigation he uncovered the problem that caused the smell that sent 11 people to the hospital.

“There had been a malfunction in the chlorine system that the equipment that puts chlorine into the pool and they got too much chlorine into the pool and the people that were in the pool at the time were affected by it,” said Stemmer.

“So the fire department came and there was no chlorine. There was no chlorine spill, there was no acid spill, nothing like that but what it was just this warm fog coming over it,” said Foss Swim School owner Jon Foss.

He said there was no malfunction of equipment, just a spill of about a cup of bleach on the floor during regular maintenance on the pool.

“We clean this line, about a couple of cups, maybe eight to 10 ounces of bleach just spilled right here,” showed Foss.

Foss said a parent opened an emergency door that sent zero-degree air from the outside clashing with 85 degree humid air on the inside. He said that water vapor cloud caused the coughing.

WCCO’s Reg Chapman spoke to the parent in question who opened the door. They tell a different story.

The parent said the smell of chlorine chocked several people outside the pool area and the vapor over the pool was noticeable before the door was forced open.

That parent said they will speak to Foss about his comments blaming them for the incident when they feel they were only reacting to what they smelled and what they say.

Foss said swimming lessons will resume Monday morning.

WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman Reports

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