Two firms fined over toxic spill at Staffordshire gym

Two firms responsible for a chemical spillage at a Staffordshire gym and pool which left eight people needing hospital treatment have each been landed with a court bill of almost £60,000.

Firefighters at the scene of the chemical spill at Nuffield Health Wellbeing’s pool in March 2009
Firefighters at the scene of the chemical spill at Nuffield Health Wellbeing’s pool in March 2009

Four children were among those hospitalised for breathing in toxic chlorine gas at a Hednesford pool.

The incident happened at Nuffield Health Wellbeing’s pool in March 2009, just a few months after the company had taken over the former Cannons Health Club in East Cannock Road.

Nuffield Health Wellbeing and Honeywell Control Systems, who maintain the pool machinery, were each fined £45,000 at Stafford Magistrates Court. Each had to pay court costs of £14,754.

The court heard yesterday how swimmers started coughing and crying and struggled to breath. The building was evacuated and the fire service called.

Mr Barry Berlin, prosecuting on behalf of Cannock Chase District Council, described how distressed parents saw their children’s lips turn blue and had to be given oxygen at the scene.

Mr Berlin said Nuffield employed Honeywell to maintain the pool plant room, and on the day of the incident, engineer Allan Dean had mistakenly poured sodium hypochlorite into the sodium bisulphate, which caused the escape of the chlorine gas, which “presented a significant risk to people’s health”.

However due to the quick action of the staff, “serious injury was reduced”.

Mr Berlin said the pool had “shoddy practices.”

Both companies admitted three offences and apologised and said they had improved all services.