This week, Governor Cuomo announced emergency regulations in response to the legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the South Bronx that left 12 dead and over 100 sick. The new regulations apply to every building in New York State with a cooling tower, and its reach is significant to any building engineer or operator in the state.
Effective immediately, all cooling towers must be registered with the state and tested for legionella within 30 days of the day of posting (August 17, 2015), they must undergo routine legionella testing every 90 days thereafter.
Also included in the new regulations is a requirement to implement and document a routine maintenance program.
A summary of the new regulations, according to the Governor’s website:
- Definition & Registration– The new regulations define a cooling tower as a tower, evaporative condenser or fluid cooler that is part of a recirculated water system incorporated into a building’s cooling, industrial process, refrigeration or energy production system. Any owner of a building with an existing cooling tower must register the tower with the State Department of Health within the next 30 days. Thereafter, all new cooling towers must be registered prior to initial operation. There is no cost to register a cooling tower with the State.
- Culture Sample Testing & Tower Disinfection–Any owner of a building with a cooling tower must collect samples and obtain culture testing within the next 30 days. Thereafter, testing must be performed every 90 days, or in accordance with a maintenance program and plan obtained by the building owner. Immediate disinfection is required if culture sample testing demonstrates a need.
- Maintenance Program & Plan– Any owner of a building with a cooling tower must obtain and implement a maintenance program and plan by March 1, 2016. The plan must include a schedule for routine sampling, as well as procedures for emergency testing and disinfection to destroy Legionella bacteria. Owners must maintain a copy of the plan on the premises where a cooling tower is located, and make it available immediately upon request.
- Inspection & Certification– All cooling towers must be inspected within the next 30 days, and thereafter every 90 days. All cooling towers must be certified as complying with all regulatory requirements by November 1, 2016, and thereafter annually by November 1 of each year.
- Electronic Registration & Reporting– Registration of cooling towers will be through a statewide electronic system. In addition to registration, all actions required by the new regulations must be reported to the electronic system, within 10 days of such actions being taken.
- Enforcement & Penalties – An officer, employee or agent of the Department or local health department may enter onto any property to inspect the cooling tower for compliance with the requirements of the regulation. If an owner does not properly register, certify, inspect, clean or disinfect their cooling tower the Department or local health department may determine that such condition constitutes a nuisance and may take such action as authorized by law.
The Governor’s office has also launched a tip line to respond to questions about the new regulations: 1-888-769-7243
We’re currently looking into how LogCheck can be used to satisfy this requirement and will update when we have more information. In the meantime, please share any insight you have into combatting legionella or complying with these new regulations in the comments below.