- A chemical leak at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown near Houston left dozens needing treatment.
- About 60 people underwent decontamination after experiencing skin irritation or respiratory issues.
- The leak is being investigated, but authorities believe the chemicals were bleach and sulfuric acid.
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Thirty-one people were taken to hospitals after being exposed to chemicals Saturday afternoon at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown in Spring, Texas, officials said.
More than 80 people in total were said to have experienced respiratory issues or skin irritation.
“What began as a fun family day turned into very much a nightmare for many families,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a press conference.
She said that the leak started near a pool for kids and that a lifeguard first became sick, followed by more and more people.
“Children were walking out of the pool with respiratory issues,” she said. “Eventually it became very clear that there was something either in the environment or the water that was making these children sick, these families sick.”
The Harris County fire marshal’s hazmat team and pollution-control department responded to the leak. Air and water samples were taken, but Hidalgo said everything appeared to be within acceptable limits.
Spring firefighters decontaminated dozens of people, who washed off and massaged their eyes under a fire-truck hose, Chief Scott Seifert told The New York Times. The department ultimately said 55 people who were decontaminated refused ambulance transport to a hospital.
The park, located near Houston, was evacuated and ordered to close as an investigation began.
The fire marshal’s office said the chemicals involved were believed to be bleach and sulfuric acid. A representative for the fire marshal’s office told The Times the office did not suspect intentional contamination.
Hidalgo said investigators were looking at a system that automatically administered chemicals into the water to maintain a pH balance of 7. She added, however, that the water samples were the proper pH balance when tested.
She said a child who was initially in the “gravest situation” had become stable at the hospital. She also said one of the people taken to a hospital was a pregnant woman believed to be in labor.
In a statement provided to The Times, Six Flags said “a small number of guests in a section of the park reported feeling ill with respiratory irritation.”
“The safety of our guests and team member is always our highest priority and the park was immediately cleared as we try to determine a cause,” the company said, noting the park was closed for the day.