Woman says she feared for her life after London Aquatics Centre gas leak

·3-min read
Saffron Phillips  (Leigh Day)
Saffron Phillips (Leigh Day)

A woman has claimed she feared she could have died after a chlorine gas leak at the London Aquatics Centre.

Catering worker Saffron Phillips, 27, was one of 29 people hospitalised after a “high quantity” of gas was released from the venue at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on March 23.

Nearly 50 people were treated for breathing difficulties and a major incident was declared which is now under investigation by Newham Council.

Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has also launched an inquiry into the leak.

Emergency services near the Aquatics Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London (Barney Davis)
Emergency services near the Aquatics Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London (Barney Davis)

She said: “I could have died because of the gas leak at the London Aquatics Centre. I had to be rushed to hospital and only the emergency care I received on that day saved me.

“I still have pain in my chest, throat, I can’t stand up for a long time or walk for a long time.

“The GP has increased my asthma medication as a result. I have pain in my chest when sitting and standing and the GP has given me codeine to see if that will help relax me. I had antibiotics as I had a chest infection also. I had chemical burns on my arms which thankfully have now healed.”

Following the incident, Ms Phillips - who is asthmatic - has said she can no longer run, walk upstairs without feeling breathless and has returned to work on very light duties.

The catering worker from East Ham is bringing legal action against GLL for the injuries she suffered as a result of the gas leak.

Before the gas leak, Ms Phillips said her job as a cook and kitchen worker meant that she would be on her feet for long periods with regular use of stairs.

But the lack of oxygen during the gas leak is believed to have resulted in serious muscle weakness, which would take several months to recover from.

Emergency services near the Aquatics Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London (PA Wire)
Emergency services near the Aquatics Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London (PA Wire)

Due to smell of chemicals on the day of the leak, Ms Phillips started to have trouble breathing and began choking and suddenly fainted.

She was taken to Newham University Hospital but on the way she was put into an induced coma.

Ms Phillips has been told she will have memory problems for the next few years.

Since the incident, Ms Phillips has attended hospital on several occasions due to breathing difficulties and she is receiving counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Emergency services near the Aquatics Centre (PA Wire)
Emergency services near the Aquatics Centre (PA Wire)

Ms Phillip’s solicitor Charlie Holt, said: “Saffron had a terrible experience on the day of the gas leak at the London Aquatics Centre. She was just enjoying a normal day at work when this incident turned her life upside down.

“Unfortunately our investigations have revealed that such chemical incidents at swimming pools are not uncommon. Leisure centres need to pay heed to their responsibility to ensure the safety of their customers, staff and workers and the general public who live and work in the surrounding buildings.

“The highest levels of safety need to be applied in the handling of chemicals in areas near to public use.”

The Standard have contacted GLL for further comment.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting