SANTA MONICA—A Santa Monica High School student suffered severe lung complications after chlorine gas leaked into the school’s pool back in August 2019. According to the complaint filed on September 10, by attorney Khail A. Parris, a student had to be transported to the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. Parris stated that, “his client will seek damages to cover his past and future medical expenses and the inconvenience and suffering he sustained since the incident.”
On August 22, on the first day of school, contractors were performing maintenance on the Discovery Building at SMHS and severed a gas line. Santa Monica School District Chief Operations Officer, Carey Upton, stated that the main gas feed to the campus was quickly turned off after the line was severed. Around 3 p.m., maintenance staff attempted to repair the severed gas line when they bled the line of air allowing for natural gas to escape.
Upton explained that staff restarted the boiler for the swimming pool which expelled the chlorine gas into the pool area where the boys water polo team was practicing. NBC Los Angeles reported that about 40 students were in the pool at the time of the incident, where 11 students immediately began gasping for air.
The Santa Monica Daily Press reported that the letter Upton delivered to parents after the incident explained that the students suffered a range of respiratory symptoms, including burning sensations in the nose and throat, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. He indicated that the students should recover from the respiratory impact of exposure to chlorine gas within a few days. The student’s attorney is seeking to perform an independent inspection of the pool, its equipment, and to obtain its full maintenance records.
Gail Pinsker, spokesperson for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District said “[The district] regrets that [the incident] occurred, and have remedied the cause of the chlorine leak to prevent this from happening again.” Pinsker added that the health and safety of the students and staff are the districts top priorities.