Unsafe mix and ‘human error’ causes chemical spill at Wollondilly Leisure Centre

Wollondilly Leisure Centre management have admitted “human error” caused Monday’s chemical spill incident.

Nine people – including six children – were transferred to hospital due to a toxic chemical mix in the Picton facility’s indoor pool.

Leisure Management Services chief executive Gary Bramich runs the Wollondilly Leisure Centre and said appropriate procedures and trained staff were in place when this “most regrettable incident” occurred.

“Staff are trained through an on-site induction program and a variety of ongoing, periodic training programs and supervision,” he said.

“The facility’s management have made some immediate changes to procedures to eliminate the risk of this type of incident occurring again.”

Mr Bramich said centre management had contacted all families affected by Monday’s incident.

“Our thoughts and concerns at this time are primarily with the customers and staff involved in the incident and sincerely trust that they continue to make a full and rapid recovery,” he said.

“Staff have been offered formal support and immediate training updates have been applied across all lifeguards.”

A "pool closed" sign was set up outside the Wollondilly Leisure Centre on Monday. Picture: Chris Lane

A "pool closed" sign was set up outside the Wollondilly Leisure Centre on Monday. Picture: Chris Lane

SafeWork NSW launched an investigation into the HAZMAT incident and found dry chlorine and sodium bisulfate was mixed into the pool’s water.

A SafeWork NSW spokesman said the two chemicals should be released at opposite ends of a pool.

However, he said the two chemicals were released in the same area at the leisure centre, causing a “chemical reaction”.

The pool was evacuated for most of the day and paramedics assessed more than 20 patients.

Symptoms included skin rash, headaches and mild to moderate breathing issues.

SafeWork NSW better regular division deputy secretary Rose Webb said pool chemicals did not pose a risk if they were “used and stored correctly”.

“It is vital that workers are always provided with clear instructions for tasks involving hazardous chemicals,” she said.

“Workers should also be regularly assessed to make sure they’re competent in these potentially dangerous tasks.”

Ms Webb said Monday’s incident was a timely reminder the incorrect mixture of pool chemicals could cause health concerns.

“People using local pools should get out immediately if they notice any signs of skin rash, headaches, breathing problems, nausea or eye irritation and follow first aid instructions,” she said.