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A swimming pool chemical accident in Indianapolis sent many pool-goers to the hospital on Thursday.
The accident was allegedly caused by a combination of ACID Magic pool cleaner and chlorine which produced a noxious chlorine gas. The pool was evacuated shortly after the spill occurred and buses were used to transport less severely affected swimmers to local hospitals.
The chlorine gas didn't cause burns, but it some of the patients suffered from fairly severe symptoms.
Chlorine gas at the swimming pool caused coughing, eye irritation, nausea, and vomiting according to the Indiana Star. The exposure was fairly low which is lucky; concentrated doses of chlorine gas were used as a chemical weapon during WWI.
Over 70 people were sent to the hospital and even more were examined by medics on scene outside the pool. Below is an impromptu press conference by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard after the incident.
Ballard's caution about placing blame is a good strategy. While the injuries at the pool were caused by an accident, that doesn't necessarily let anyone off the hook. The pool's owner, in this case Indianapolis, or the maintenance company could be liable for negligence if there's evidence that someone didn't do their job right.
Even if it turns out that an employee way down the totem pole caused the accident, the employer can still be liable if the employee was acting as part of his or her employment.
Dealing with a situation like this can be a delicate balance. It seems heartless to point fingers for what could be an innocent accident but at the same time, the children and adults who were hospitalized may have some significant bills to pay.
While many people got sick as a result of Thursday's swimming pool chemical accident, no one is in serious danger according to a report by Reuters.