40 children taken to hospital after chemical spill at YMCA

Emergency responders at the scene of a hazmat spill at the Downtown YMCA in Durham.

DURHAM, N.C. — Authorities say 42 people, 40 of them children, were hospitalized after a chemical spill at the YMCA in Durham.

The Latest:

  • 2 adults and 40 kids are injured, 6 of them seriously
  • Sodium Hypochlorite, a chlorine compound often used as a disinfectant or a bleaching agent, was leaked into a pool
  • Children affected range from 6 to 12 years old
  • The YMCA is closed until further notice

Durham police told local media outlets that the children and adults were in the pool at the downtown YMCA on Wednesday when the leak occurred.

The children affected range in age from 6 to 12.

Watch Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. for updates as this story develops.

Durham Deputy Fire Chief Chris Iannuzzi said there was a report of a leak in the disinfection system, and a hazardous materials team was on the scene trying to determine how to stop it.

A tent was set up outside the YMCA to evaluate people who may have been overcome by fumes. Children attending day camp at the YMCA were moved to a different branch.

"Earlier this afternoon, a lifeguard at our Downtown Durham YMCA reported a strong chemical odor near the pool pump room," the YMCA said in a statement to our ABC affiliate WTVD. "YMCA staff immediately contacted EMS. They, in turn contacted the Durham Fire Department who determined that this was a hazmat situation."

About 100 campers swam in the Downtown Durham YMCA pool, the Y said. As part of their daily routine, they were taken back to their camp at Club Boulevard Elementary School.

"About 3 p.m., some children began complaining about breathing issues. Our camp staff immediately contacted EMS and began notifying parents," a YMCA spokesperson said.

The YMCA is closed, with no immediate timetable for reopening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.