Calypso Theme Waterpark is facing eight charges under the Environmental Protection Act after a chlorine gas spill that sent 13 children to hospital in August 2012.

The Ministry of the Environment laid the charges in November, more than a year after the incident.

On Aug. 7, 2012, paramedics responded to multiple reports of sickness at the water park.

They ended up taking 13 children to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, while one child was assessed at the park and released to a parent, CBC News reported at the time.

No one was seriously hurt.

The charges include, that on Aug. 7, 2012:

  • Calypso and co-owner Guy Drouin discharged, caused the discharge or permitted the discharge of chlorine gas.
  • Calypso and Drouin failed to notify the Ministry of Environment of the discharge.
  • Drouin failed to take reasonable care to prevent the corporation from discharging the contaminant.
  • Drouin failed to take reasonable care to prevent the corporation from failing to notify the ministry of the discharge.
  • And that on Aug. 8, 2012, Calypso, Drouin and co-owner Sylvain Lauzon discharged, caused the discharge or permitted the discharge of chlorine gas.
  • Calypso, Drouin and Lauzon failed to notify the Ministry of Environment of the discharge.
  • Drouin failed to take reasonable care to prevent the corporation from discharging the contaminant.
  • Drouin failed to take reasonable care to prevent the corporation from failing to notify the ministry of the discharge.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Incident was a 'one-time malfunction,' lawyer says

Lawrence Greenspon Ottawa lawyer Calypso charges environmental

Calypso Theme Waterpark's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, says the chlorine gas spill was a "one-time malfunction." (CBC)

Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon is defending Calypso.

"This was a one-time malfunction and fortunately, although a number of children were taken to hospital as a precaution, no one was seriously injured and Calypso is very happy about that," Greenspon said in an interview this week.

"I don't know why they decided to lay a charge about something that happened on a one-time basis and has since been remedied. And there haven't been any similar problems of that nature since."

Greenspon also addressed the 20 charges against Calypso laid by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, as well as several civil lawsuits the company is facing from customers who say they were injured at the park.

"Calypso is the largest park of its kind in the area. Almost half a million people go through there. There's no doubt that there's going to be some scrapes and bruises, and some people going there for adventure may have some mishaps," Greenspon said.

"The TSSA is in the business of enforcing health and safety regulations, they're doing their job, and I think Calypso — if you look at the millions of people that have come through the park — the relative, very very small number of incidents really, if anything, point out that the park has been a very safe and compliant operation."

Some children suffered symptoms of nausea, vomiting, airway irritation

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14 children playing at the Calypso Theme Waterpark were treated for symptoms of illness on Aug. 7, 2012. (CBC)

The children, who ranged at the time from four to 14 years old, had problems breathing, paramedics said at the time of the incident. Three of them suffered from symptoms of nausea, vomiting and airway irritation.

Paramedics said people reported a strong odour of chlorine in the pool, but park officials initially said chlorine was not the cause of any illness.

The following day, the company said chlorine was indeed the cause.

Just after 1 p.m., a water testing technician at the water park added 25 kilograms of 60-per-cent concentrated chlorine into the pool. An air leak was noted and the technician notified the workers responsible for fixing it.

At 1:10 p.m. the filtration system was shut off by the workers while they retrieved a part and fixed the leak. Meanwhile, the chlorine pumps continued to dump chlorine into the pool.

Filtration was restarted 15 minutes later.

"Calypso Theme Waterpark team extends its deepest apologies for the incident that occurred...," a statement released by the company at the time said.

"While this incident is regrettable, it had no serious effects on the health of those who were exposed, according to comments from CHEO Hospital. As of today, technicians have been given a new procedure to follow and must shut off all chlorine pumps whenever the filtration process is interrupted."

The water park is scheduled to open for the season in early June.

Calypso is next scheduled to appear in court on March 6.