A safety notice imposed on a Wearside factory at the heart of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak remains in force – seven weeks after it was imposed.
Faltec Europe, in Boldon Colliery, was ordered to shut four cooling towers by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after significant levels of the potentially-lethal bacteria were found on site.
Four workers at the factory in Boldon Business Park – as well as a resident whose home overlooks the premises – have contracted the disease since October, with four of those cases occurring between April and May.
All required hospital treatment but were subsequently discharged.
As part of an investigation into the infection, the HSE served a prohibition notice on the firm on June 5.
Bosses at Faltec Europe are now using two chiller units on site to seal in cool water used in factory processes to prevent a risk of further infection.
They must satisfy experts at the HSE that there is no threat of further infection before the cooling towers can be brought back into use.
Sampling of the water systems identified the presence of significant quantities of the legionella bacteria.
The company locked off the cooling towers and carried out disinfection and control procedures.
The potentially-fatal lung condition does not spread from person to person, only via contaminated water droplets.
A HSE spokesman said: “The prohibition notice is still in place.
“The company has brought onto site two chiller units which use a fully-enclosed system to cool water used in the factory processes.
“Should the company wish to revert to using the cooling towers, it will have to satisfy the HSE that they can be operated without creating a risk to employees or the public.
“If the company can demonstrate that the risk is adequately controlled, then it will have complied with the prohibition notice, and it will cease to have effect.”
The factory remains open as usual.