The Porter County Health Department shut down Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland in Porter on Monday after two children suffered chemical burns from the chlorine in the water of the children's area when the park opened late last week, officials said.
Inspectors with the health department found several violations during an inspection Monday morning, including problems that could have closed the park until they were rectified, said Keith Letta, the department's administrator. But the children suffering injuries would have led to a temporary closure regardless of the other violations, Letta said.
"This has gone beyond theoretical because we've had people injured," he said. The park will remain closed until the problems are resolved, he added.
An employee in the park's ticket office said the facility would be closed for three days to a week. A manager at the park was not immediately available to answer questions. Officials at the corporate office for Seven Peaks in Provo, Utah, did not respond to an email requesting comment, and an employee reached by phone there said no one was available to talk.
According to its website, the park opened Thursday, though Letta said Seven Peaks did not have a water sample tested before it opened or an inspection by his department, both of which are required under state law. The park also did not have paperwork to reflect that employees were checking water samples, according to the inspection report.
"We had no idea they were open," he said, adding his department received one complaint about a child receiving chemical burns in the water and a second came through the Porter Fire Department.
Equipment that reads and responds to the need for chlorine in the water malfunctioned, pumping too much of the disinfecting chemical into the water in the children's area, he said.
"That is no doubt why it happened," he said.
Too little of the chemical in the water can foster the growth of bacteria, but too much chlorine can cause chemical burns, Letta said. When the equipment malfunctions, "there's no way of knowing whether there is too much or too little," he added.
Heather Gonzalez, of Porter, took her two children, son Alexander, 7, and daughter Charley, 3, to the park when it opened Thursday. They went to the children's area, where her daughter went down a slide, she said.
They then went to the wave pool, she said.
"We were (at the park) maybe an hour-and-a-half and my daughter started complaining that her legs hurt," said Gonzalez, who lives within walking distance of the park.
About 45 minutes after they got home,her daughter went to the bathroom "and she was screaming," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez discovered parts of her daughter's legs were red, "almost bubbly," she said.
Gonzalez said she took her daughter to her pediatrician Friday and the doctor said her daughter had a chemical burn. Gonzalez, who contacted the health department Friday, said her daughter was still recovering Monday.
Seven Peaks took over the water park four years ago, after Splash Down Dunes sat vacant for several years. The health department helped Seven Peaks representatives when they re-opened the park and there haven't been any other major problems since, Letta said.
Seven Peaks has three locations in Utah, according to its website.