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1 taken to the hospital after chlorine “burp” escapes Sudden Valley Water Treatment Plant

SUDDEN VALLEY, Wash. — First responders were dispatched to a retail business location in the 1900 block of Lake Whatcom Boulevard about 11:15am today, June 27th, due to a report of a chlorine odor in the area.

South Whatcom Fire Authority (SWFA) Assistant Fire Chief Mitch Nolze told Whatcom News they arrived to find a patient that had been driven from Morning Beach Park (aka AM/PM Beach) to the Lake Whatcom Boulevard location who was having breathing difficulties.

Nolze said while a crew stayed with the patient, another SWFA crew continued to the Morning Beach Park area which is adjacent to the Sudden Valley Water Treatment Plant where chlorine is used to disinfect water pumped from the lake.

Water treatment plant operators were notified of the incident. In addition, the Whatcom County Specialized Emergency Response Program Hazmat Team was notified, Nolze said.

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The person that suffered breathing difficulty was transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center under basic life support protocols according to Nolze.

Nolze said SWFA crews returned to their station once it was determined there was no ongoing leak and the treatment plant had been operating normally during the incident.

Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District General Manager Justin Cleary told Whatcom News that workers were changing out a piece of equipment called a chlorinator, something done annually, and released of “a burp” of chlorine gas, some of which made its way outside the treatment facility. None of the staff were impacted according to Cleary.

One Comment

  1. Olivia Engels June 27, 2022

    My family and I were there when it happened. We were standing directly outside of the treatment plant when the chlorine burp erupted (intending to play at the beach). It was terrifying. None of us could breathe. We rushed our children back into the car and drove over to the gas station area to actually buckle our kids and assess our situation. We met the mom and boy who were taken to the hospital. The boy coughed uncontrollably. I coughed the entire drive home to Lynden. My lungs didn’t feel better for about 5 hours. My kids were traumatized and haven’t stopped talking about it. My 5 year old thought he was going to die. It felt like inhaling straight chlorine from an inhaler, sharp, painful, it was horrific.

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