A chemical leak at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown in Spring, Texas caused at least 100 people to require decontamination, treatment, or both on Saturday afternoon. Officials believe that the toxic exposure incident started with a mixture of bleach and sulfuric acid.
According to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office (HCFMO), 31 people were taken to the hospital while 55 refused transport. Those exposed to the chemical mixture were required to undergo decontamination before leaving the water park.
Crews responded to Splashtown at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Investigators have indicated that the incident started in the park’s kiddie pool area when a lifeguard became sick. As the situation progressed, more people—including children—started to become ill. Symptoms included skin irritation and difficulty with inhalation.
Steven Morris was at the park with his 9-year-old daughter during the toxic exposure incident. They were among those transported to local hospitals for treatment. He said that he noticed a harsh smell, his daughter started to vomit, and he started coughing and having issues with his eyes.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack it felt like we got gassed,” Morris told reporters.
Another man who was at the park described the scene as chaotic and riot-like. When he asked Splashtown lifeguards what happened, they informed him that chemicals were improperly mixed. The man’s son remained in the hospital under observation for six hours—he expressed concern over the long-term effects caused by their chemical exposure.
What Caused the Splashtown Chemical Accident?
Early reports indicate that the chemicals that triggered the incident included a hypochlorite solution and 35% sulfuric acid, two chemicals commonly used to clean swimming pools. A Sunday update from Six Flags indicated that the incident involved a “small vapor release.”
According to a statement by a Splashtown representative, the park will remain closed Sunday and Monday.
“We are working hand in hand with Harris County Public Health officials, along with third-party industry experts, to determine a cause, and we will reopen when we are confident it is safe to do so,” the statement reads. “It is our understanding that all impacted guests and team members have been released and are back home. The safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority.”
The HCMFO’s hazmat team has reported that water and air samples from the area have returned normal test results. They’ll continue to monitor the air and water quality in the park.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters that the waterpark had systems in place to catch an issue like the one that happened on Saturday. However, she confirmed that the system failed to detect any abnormalities before the incident.
“Obviously we had evidence from these folks being sick that something was wrong,” Hidalgo said. “If you can have 60-plus people get sick and your system doesn’t catch it—doesn’t catch what is off with the chemicals or whatever it is—then clearly something is wrong with the system.”
Hidalgo stressed that anyone who was at the park on Saturday should seek treatment immediately if they begin to feel unwell.
Our Texas amusement park accident attorneys will continue to follow this story as investigators determine what caused this dangerous incident to occur.