Turlock

Turlock finds out what happens when 5 quarts of motor oil are thrown in park pool

Vandals disrupt summer fun for Turlock kids

Kids hoping to swim are out of luck at the community pool in Columbia Park in Turlock, Calif. on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019. The Modesto Fire Department reports that motor oil was poured into the pool on Tuesday evening.
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Kids hoping to swim are out of luck at the community pool in Columbia Park in Turlock, Calif. on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019. The Modesto Fire Department reports that motor oil was poured into the pool on Tuesday evening.

The city of Turlock had the “best worst luck” when it came to an act of vandalism at a community pool, meaning things could have been much worse, a parks and recreation official said.

Sometime Tuesday night, an open 5-quart jug of motor oil was tossed over a wrought-iron fence around the community pool in Columbia Park, said Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Erik Schulze. The pool is divided into two sections: a small children’s zone and the bigger general area.

The bulk of the oil was contained within the kiddie pool, Schulze said, though the filtration system did carry some into the big pool. Being oil, the contaminant floated on the water surface, and personnel from the city’s fire and environmental departments were able to sop up most of it with towels. A Modesto Fire Department hazmat crew also assisted.

It also helped that the oil was clean, not used, which would have made cleanup more difficult, Schulze said. “We got the best-case scenario. We were ready for significant damage.”

A county health inspector visited the pool to ensure there was not an environmental issue, Schulze said, and none was found. One of the city’s pool contractors provided an enzyme to break down the oil, he said. The chemical was applied Wednesday and will be run through the pool pumps for a couple of days. Then the inspector will return to approve reopening of the pool.

Swimming lessons were canceled Wednesday and Thursday, and recreational swimming is closed through Sunday (the pool regularly is closed on Fridays). The aquatic playground at the park at 600 Columbia Street is not affected.

This was the last week of swim lessons, so refunds are being offered for the two canceled days.

This also is the last week the pool was open on weekdays. Between Aug. 10 and 25, it will be open Saturdays and Sundays only, from 1 to 4 p.m.

No recreational swimming was offered at the Pitman High pool this summer, and the Turlock High pool closed to the public on July 18.

Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.
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