This case involves an elderly woman with a history of pulmonary fibrosis who was swimming in a private pool at her retirement community. At 5:37 am while the woman was swimming, the entire reservoir of chemicals was pumped into the pool through the jets. The woman quickly exited the pool but still inhaled chlorine gas and required hospital transfer from the scene. Her pulmonary fibrosis was exacerbated by the incident causing her to suffer from frequent headaches and ongoing pulmonary complications. The retirement facility claimed there was a power outage which caused the pumps to spontaneously release chlorine into the pool. An expert in pool maintenance was sought to discuss the standards for inspecting automatic pumps in a commercial pool.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience in pool maintenance as it pertains to automatic pumps.
- 2. How often should a pool be inspected to ensure that the chemical reservoir is releasing properly?
Expert Witness Response E-096067
I have been designing commercial and institutional pools for 20 years. That has included looking at user safety issues related to pool structure and pool recirculation systems including filtration and sanitation. Prior to designing pools, I sold chemicals and trained pool operators on the use and testing of swimming pool water chemistry. The injection system should have been designed to shut down with a power outage. That means any type of solenoid valve as part of the automatic chemical feed controller should normally be off so it only comes on when it is powered. With due diligence on the existing equipment and controls, it can be determined what type of solenoid valve should be ascertained.
Expert Witness Response E-151647
I present 8-10 times a year on water and pool safety, operation, and renovation topics to audiences of lifeguards, swim coaches, property managers, and homeowner’s association board members. I have consulted on various projects and cases regarding facility design and operations, defective repair and renovation work, and drowning liability. It seems that this was an occurrence in which chlorine concentrated in the pool plumbing during the power outage and then came out all at once when the power came back on. The severity of the exposure would depend upon how long the power was out, the type of chlorine feed system they have, and the type of chlorine used.