Chena, workers deny falsifying chlorine records

Posted: Monday, August 21, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Chena Hot Springs Resort and two of its workers have pleaded innocent to criminal charges that they falsified business records and didn't keep chlorine levels up to standard in some of the resort's hot tubs.

The resort, General Manager David Dominguez and former employee Carol Douglas are charged with two felony counts of falsifying records stating chlorine was added to an indoor hot tub and outdoor whirlpool spa.

They also face six misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors say the resort and its managers failed to test spas for chlorine, failed to maintain chlorine levels and failed to follow federal standards for public spas and hot tubs.

All three entered innocent pleas Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation started investigating last winter after a resort employee told officials she was ordered to falsify records on chlorine levels and temperatures.

DEC investigators obtained a search warrant in February. They checked chlorine and temperatures in the various spas, as well as interviewing resort managers.

There wasn't any chlorine in the hot tub or the outdoor spa, according to prosecutors. Temperatures were higher than the numbers in the log books and the federal standard.

Bacteria counts showed that the outdoor spa and indoor hot tub had a high enough bacteria level to be considered too numerous to count, prosecutors said.

DEC had been monitoring the resort more closely since a June 1998 outbreak of pseudomonas aeruginose. That bacteria can cause a painful rash, fever and ear infections.

Resort Operations Manager Bernie Karl disputes the charges.

''Once again, we'll be totally exonerated,'' Karl said. ''It's total nonsense. It's government gone awry.''

Karl's wife, Connie Parks-Karl, bought the resort about two years ago from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. Karl claims that when the state owned the resort the DEC wasn't as strict.

The resort has an indoor swimming pool, several hot tubs, and a new outdoor pool. More than 70,000 visit annually.

The trial is set for Sept. 18, but Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly said during the arraignment that it would probably be delayed so attorneys would have more time to prepare.

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