Sunday, 30 August 2015

Chromalloy fined £177,000 for cooling tower failings

Chromalloy UK Limited, who refurbishes turbine blades at sites in Eastwood in Nottinghamshire and Somercotes in Derbyshire, was fined £177,252 (inc. costs) for failing to manage the risk to public and employees to potentially fatal legionella bacteria for over a year, from May 2011.
The circumstances were:
  • Both sites have cooling towers which require management to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. This can lead to fatal illnesses.
  • Two improvement notices were served on the company in 2008 seeking improvements on rusting towers and a number of management failures. All the notices were complied with.
  • A laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from the Somercotes site before the HSE investigation found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system. 
  • As well as failing to maintain its infrastructure, Chromalloy did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels. 
  • An HSE inspector visited the Somercotes site in May 2012, 
  • During this visit, he felt spray on his face and saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded. 
  • He extended his visit to the rest of the Somercotes factory plus the company’s site at Eastwood, and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.
  • The HSE issued four improvement notices in June 2012 on Chromalloy requiring inlet screens to be placed on the cooling towers to stop debris falling in them which could encourage legionella growth, and for corroded items of plant to be replaced. 

The HSE inspector said:
“The company’s water treatment programme and associated management arrangements were found to be severely ineffective.  
Chromalloy UK Limited was grossly complacent in its attempts to manage the risks arising from legionella bacteria in its cooling towers at two separate locations. HSE intervened in 2008 but the company did not sustain any improvements made. There were serious risks to employees and members of the public becoming infected with legionnaires’ disease due to this company’s failure to do all that was reasonably practicable to control the proliferation of legionella bacteria in their cooling towers. Employers must understand the health risks associated with legionella and take the necessary precautions to control or reduce risks arising from evaporative cooling systems.” 

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