June 29, 2016

Mostly sunny

Chlorine turns toxic at Wadsworth Community Center

Wadsworth High School and the attached Wadsworth Community Center were evacuated Tuesday after an accidental mix of chemicals created toxic chlorine gas.

Wadsworth fire, police and emergency medical service personnel responded to the incident at the center’s recreation portion managed by the Akron-area YMCA, 623 School Drive, at about 2 p.m. The Medina County HazMat team also responded.

A Medina County HazMat team prepares to enter Wadsworth High School wearing protective suits Tuesday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

Wadsworth Fire Chief Carl Rommel said the toxic gas was created by the mixture of chlorine and muriatic acid — chemicals used to treat the swimming pool — that occurred when the worker who delivered the chemicals accidentally poured the chlorine into the wrong tank.

Rommel said the mixture creates a gas more toxic than mustard gas, which was used in World War I and banned afterward as an inhume weapon of war.

Rommel said the worker was taken to Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital after inhaling some of the gas.

“He had some trouble breathing but he is stable,” Rommel said.

City officials did not release the man’s name or that of the YMCA’s chemical vendor.

Rommel said about 300 people were evacuated from the community center, senior center and high school.

Emergency services remained on the scene until after 5 p.m.

Wadsworth Mayor Robin Laubaugh said the cleanup of the community center is complete and it would reopen today.

City Service Director Chris Easton said HazMat will continue to investigate the incident.

“We’ll wait to see the results of the HazMat investigation, and their findings will determine a lot of the facts, and we’ll determine any liability based on that,” Easton said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.