Update 6/27/2014: This article has been updated to reflect new information from Recreational Sports.
UCPD and Berkeley Fire Department responded to a hazardous materials situation with no reported injuries in the Golden Bear Recreation Center at Clark Kerr Campus shortly after 8 p.m.
UCPD Sgt. Nicole Miller said while staff were cleaning the bottom of a pool, water backed up and filled into the maintenance room, exposing chlorine tablets to water. Soon after, the tablets bubbled up, and fumes were emitted from the reaction. As of 8:30 p.m., water was drained out of the room, tablets were drying and fumes were dying down, she said.
According to BFD Battalion Chief Bill Kehoe, the tablets were exposed to a large quantity of water all at once. Water is usually sprayed onto them in small quantities to keep the pool cleaned, he said. A valve was opened and flushed the entire container of chlorine tablets, which caused them to simultaneously react and overpressurize, Kehoe said.
Kehoe called the incident a “human error.”
Julie Rolla, a gymnast who was working out at the center, said authorities told her and others to evacuate through the back exit due to a chlorine explosion, although Kehoe said later reports found that it was simply a chemical reaction. Rolla said the area smelled strongly like bleach.
Physical Plant Campus Services is cleaning up the area, and students were permitted to reenter some areas of the facilities Thursday night.
On Friday morning, Recreational Sports sent an update stating that the Golden Bear Pool will remain closed until Monday. The damaged area was confined to the equipment room, according to the update. The areas around the pool and in the center were tested and found to be safe.
Senior staff writer Michael Rosen contributed to this report.