NSW Health authorities suspect an infected cooling tower located around Town Hall Station is responsible for the outbreak of Legionnaires disease (a severe form of pneumonia), where so far four men are currently receiving treatment.
People contract Legionnaires by inhaling water droplets that contain Legionella bacteria, which grows in warm water. NSW Health is urging anyone who has visited the Town Hall area and has symptoms such as fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath to see their doctor.
Legionella can be controlled by proper water treatment procedures and regular cleaning. To safely maintain water cooling systems, Owners Corporations must arrange for a competent person to:
- demonstrate the disinfection process used adequately controls microbial growth
- inspect the system every month and clean it every 6 months
- undertake regular microbiological water testing
- ensure operation and maintenance manuals are on-hand
- ensure a log book details all work carried out
- certify the system each year.
To control Legionnaires’ disease, the City of Sydney maintains a register of water-cooling systems in premises (including cooling towers) and warm-water systems.
Councils take their role in minimising the risk of Legionnaires’ disease through compliance with legislative requirements very seriously. If the legislative requirements have NOT been complied with, legal action will be taken. You are required to ensure all records in your Maintenance Manual are secure, cover the past 7 years and are fully up-to-date. Pending an unsatisfactory inspection, Council’s Environmental Health Officers may also re-inspect the water cooling system, manuals, take a sample and recover the associated costs.