Health and safety bosses have ordered a South Tyneside factory at the heart of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak to close four cooling towers after “significant” quantities of bacteria were found at the site, Shields Gazette has reported.
Four workers and a resident whose garden overlooks the Faltec Europe factory in Boldon Business Park have contracted the potentially fatal lung condition since October - with four cases confirmed in the past two months.
All required hospital treatment but have since been discharged.
As part of an investigation into the infection, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has served a prohibition notice on the firm that stops the operation of four cooling towers at the location.
Sampling of the water systems has identified the presence of significant quantities of the legionella bacteria.
The company has now locked off the cooling towers and carried out disinfection and control procedures.
The towers will not be allowed to be brought back into operation until the company had satisfied HSE that the risks from exposure to legionella bacteria are being adequately controlled.
An improvement notice has also been served on the company requiring it to improve the management of its water systems at the site in relation to the legionella risk.
HSE says it will continue to monitor the situation and work with Public Health England and South Tyneside Council to ensure that risks to employees and members of the public are properly controlled.
Combatting Legionella & Water Treatment conference
The 12th Annual Combatting Legionella & Water Treatment conference will take place on 29-30 September at Aston Villa Park in Birmingham.
A comprehensive and cutting-edge event, the conference ensures engineering and facilities management teams are able to prevent legionella bacteria from developing and comply with water safety regulations.