Swimmers flee pool hit by toxic gas alert

Bathers had to be evacuated from a swimming pool after staff became alerted to a toxic gas leak.

Firefighters in chemical hazard suits rushed to Newbattle Swimming Pool in Newtongrange and led frightened swimmers to nearby Newbattle Leisure Centre. Children were wrapped in foil blankets as the drama unfolded at 3.20pm 

It is understood that staff reported a spillage of toxic calcium hypochlorite pellets – widely used for water treatment – from the container in which they were being held.

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Fumes then began to fill a plant room, leading pool staff to contact emergency services.

Two pool employees were treated for throat irritation at the scene, but no-one was seriously hurt in the incident.

The Midlothian Council-run facility was shut down as emergency services arrived at the scene. Bosses had hoped to reopen the pool later that afternoon but instead it was decided to allow the centre a night to ventilate.

A Lothian and Borders Fire Service spokeswoman said: “A call was received at 3.20pm from a staff member at Newbattle Swimming Pool on Main Street in Newtongrange.

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“Calcium hypochlorite pellets stored in the swimming pool’s plant room were found to have fallen from the hopper they were stored in but firefighters in sealed gas-suits removed the tablets and took them into the fresh air.

“Two staff members were treated for throat irritation at the scene by ambulance crew and tests for further contamination show the area is now clear.”

An onlooker who lives opposite the pool and asked not to be named, said: “I returned from walking my dog to find fire engines and policemen everywhere. There were kids getting brought out of the building wrapped up in that tinfoil stuff. It looked very serious.”

A Midlothian Council spokesman said yesterday: “Just after 3pm, staff noticed chemical fumes. For the health and safety of the public, they followed the correct procedures, contacting the emergency services. Those inside the building were evacuated to the leisure centre next door.

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“We’re investigating the cause of the fumes and hope to get the pool open again tomorrow [Thursday]. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

The popular Newbattle pool, which first opened its doors in 1969, contains a 25x10 metre pool with diving boards and a separate baby pool, and a 
luxury sauna suite.