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Support for better Legionella control measures

MEDIA RELEASE 7 August 2008

Support for better Legionella control measures

Proposed improved measures to prevent a Legionella outbreak have received support from the Christchurch City Council.

In 2005 a Legionella outbreak in Christchurch affected 19 people all of whom were hospitalised. Three of the patients died.

At the time of the outbreak the regional public health officers and Christchurch City Council building and health officers participated in the investigation into the source of the outbreak. One of the likely sources was industrial water cooling towers. The towers are not controlled under the Building Warrant Of Fitness regime administered by the Council.

Subsequently a Coroner’s inquest into the death of the three people concluded that, based on probabilities, there was a common source for the outbreak and it was likely to be an industrial cooling tower (of a type not controlled under the Building Warrant of Fitness system)

The Coroner made a number of recommendations regarding the compliance regime around the towers. They are being considered by the Department of Building and Housing and the Department of Health.

Today’s meeting of the Council’s Regulatory and Planning Committee agreed to send a letter to the Department of Building and Housing and the Department of Health, supporting the Coroner’s recommendations around changes to the Public Health Act and Building Act.

The Coroner’s recommendations include that the owners and/or operators of all cooling towers be required to register the towers with their Territorial Authorities, that territorial authorities create and maintain a single database for cooling towers for heating and ventilating systems and cooling towers for industrial processes, and that all cooling towers, whether commercial or industrial, be brought within the Compliance Schedule/Building Warrant of Fitness regime administered by territorial authorities.

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