Legionnaires’ Disease Update

Statement from Dolphin Square
– 10th July 2019

Please find below a Question & Answer Memorandum we have compiled in order to address some of the commonly asked questions and queries we have been receiving in the light of the three confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease at the Square since March 2019.

The confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease linked to Dolphin Square involve individual flats in Nelson, Beatty and Hawkins Houses.  Dolphin House (the short term serviced apartments), the Gym, Spa, Bar & Grill and the other long term residential houses have not been affected.  Thankfully, the three individuals involved in the confirmed cases are recovering.

We understand that the current situation may be stressful and hope that the Memo will reassure you that we are doing everything possible to protect the health and welfare of everybody who lives at and visits Dolphin Square.

As you will be aware, we are currently undertaking an extensive exercise of inspection, sampling, flushing and descaling of the water outlets in every single flat on the Estate, together with the Gym, Spa and Swimming Pool, and completing remedial works if required to taps, showers and thermostatic valves in individual flats (at our expense).

In parallel, we are also re-inspecting and testing water tanks, supply pipework in the Estate’s risers, and undertaking any necessary remedial works (for example, by removing redundant lengths of pipework in individual flats).

As we have previously advised, the private water supply system at the Square is overseen, monitored and tested by Feedwater (our retained water treatment experts – www.feedwater.co.uk), and we have identified no problems to date within the water plant itself.  In an abundance of caution, over the next fortnight, Feedwater plans to “shock dose” the entire hot water supply system with additional chlorine in order to fully flush it through, and you may notice some increased chlorine aromas during this period.

All of these works are being undertaken in consultation with Westminster City Council, Public Health England and The Health & Safety Executive.

In addition, your Landlord (The Dolphin Square Estate Limited) is establishing a Water Safety Group to oversee water safety generally at the Estate and assist Dolphin Square Limited with the inspection and works programmes.  The Water Safety Group members will include senior representatives from Feedwater, Chesterfield WT Consultants (our retained water engineering consultants), a Public Health Microbiologist and Westbrook Partners (representing the Landlord).

Should you have any health concerns or symptoms of a flu-like nature, please contact your GP immediately or call NHS111 for further guidance.  Please be reassured that the health and welfare of everyone at Dolphin Square is central to all we do.

Question & Answer Memorandum

Following recent communication by Public Health England (PHE) in relation to three confirmed Legionnaire’s Disease cases within Dolphin Square, there have been many commonly asked queries and questions raised by residents, guests, gym members and visitors. The aim of this Question & Answer Memorandum is to address such queries and questions, and to reassure you that we are doing everything possible to protect the health and welfare of everyone who lives at and visits Dolphin Square.

 

General / Resident Questions:

1. What is legionella & how are people exposed to legionella?

Legionella is a very common group of bacteria found in water systems. Legionella enters the body through breathing in aerosols (very small droplets of water). It cannot be spread from person to person. Please click here for a copy of our Legionella advice leaflet.

 

2. What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial disease which may cause pneumonia. The majority of cases are reported as single (isolated) cases but outbreaks can occur. An outbreak of this disease in Philadelphia in 1976 among people attending a state convention of the American Legion led to naming the disease after this group. Subsequently, the bacterium causing the illness was identified and named Legionella pneumophila. (Source: Public Health England)

Please click here for the full leaflet from Public Health England for further details.

 

3. How many confirmed cases at Dolphin Square have there been?

There have been three confirmed cases to date, with the first occurring in March 2019. These cases have been localised to three individual flats in separate Houses: Nelson, Beatty and Hawkins.   Thankfully, the three individuals involved in the confirmed cases are recovering.

 

4. Why is the Square not being evacuated?

We have been having regular meetings and dialogue with Westminster City Council, Public Health England and The Health and Safety Executive, to discuss control measures and remedial actions, and at the present time none of these regulatory authorities nor our experts have advised us to evacuate any part of the Square.

 

5. Is the water safe to drink / should I stop using water in my flat?

The advice from Public Health England is that you are unlikely to contract Legionnaires’ Disease from drinking water.  It is important to ensure that water circulates around the system in your flats through regular use and flushing as per the Safe Flushing Protocol (details of which we have provided to all residents) so that water does not sit or is left to stagnate. Legionella bacteria tends to grow in water that is sitting idle.

If you are going to be away from your flat for 7 days or more please contact [email protected] so that your flat can be added to the weekly flush schedule until your return (at our expense).

 

6. What do you do to control the growth of legionella bacteria and minimise risks?

UK legislation requires that we store water at 60 degrees or higher and that we deliver it to the tap at a minimum of 50 degrees after running the tap for one minute on hot and we aim to keep cold water below 20 degrees, after running the tap for 2 minutes.

Please note that the temperature of water may not be immediately hot when you run the hot tap; however, it is important to tell our maintenance team if after 1 minute your hot water doesn’t feel hot, or likewise your cold water doesn’t feel cold after 2 minutes.

We regularly carry out temperature checks on vacant flats across the Estate and we are in the process of completing an Estate-wide audit, where we are recording temperatures at every single water outlet.

Where these temperature checks have returned readings outside of the above guidelines, these are flagged and the team will return to check the temperatures again.  If there is no change, we we will be replacing the water outlets (at our expense).

 

7. What can I do to make sure I don’t get it?

We would advise that you continue to follow the guidance that has been sent to all residents on water hygiene (click here) and Safe Flushing Protocol, as well as ensuring all water outlets in your flat are used and flushed through on a regular basis to keep water circulating and that outlets are regularly cleaned and descaled. No modifications may be made by you to the outlets – this includes (amongst other things) the installation of water softening equipment, de-chlorifiers or shower heads.

Guidance is also available from the Public Health England website: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/legionnaires-disease-guidance-data-and-analysis

If you have any health concerns or symptoms please contact your GP directly or call NHS 111 for further guidance and please alert the doctor/health practitioner to this information about legionella at Dolphin Square.

 

8. What steps have been taken in dealing with this situation?

We are under the supervision of The Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England, and Westminster City Council, and we continue to be advised by our retained water experts, Feedwater.  We have also engaged a further independent water treatment engineering consultancy, Chesterfield WT Consultants Limited.

As a precautionary measure, we have carried out, and continue to carry out, an Estate-wide visual inspection of all water outlets in all flats, including cleaning and descaling these if required, checking water temperatures and cleaning or replacing flexible shower hoses if necessary, at our expense. This is an intensive ongoing project, with the contractors working 11 hours per day, 7 days per week.

This exercise has been completed in the following Houses: Nelson, Howard, Beatty, Duncan, Keyes, Hood, Collingwood & Frobisher. The schedule for completion of the other Houses is as follows:

 

Grenville House 10th July & 11th July 2019
Drake House 12th July 2019
Raleigh House 13th July 2019
Hawkins House 14th & 15th July 2019

 

Any fittings that are identified during the visual inspection which may need to be changed or replaced will either be done at the time of the appointment, or during a further scheduled appointment. This includes hot water towel rails and linen lines.

We continue to test and monitor the Estate in line with and in excess of the required legionella testing guidelines. Legislation requires that we test every 6 months. This was being done monthly however, since the first case, we have increased the frequency of testing and are now testing three flats, per floor, per House on a weekly basis and have commissioned Feedwater, our water treatment specialists, to carry out a House-by-House, floor-by-floor, water sampling programme.

This commenced on 3 July 2019 and will be ongoing over the Summer with tests being carried out on water outlets in selected flats selected by Feedwater. Results are returned from the laboratory within 10-14 days.  Should there be any unsatisfactory results, we will notify you and make an appointment to visit your flat. We have strict guidelines regarding the corrective actions that must be taken depending on the results and how we are advised by the laboratory. We will either carry out a further flush or we will be replacing outlets for newer models.

 

9. What should I do if I have any concerns about the water in my flat?

If you have any issues or need any assistance with flushing or any other matter concerning your water please contact the maintenance team on [email protected] or via Switchboard.

 

10. What further remedial action will you be taking?

Over the next fortnight, we plan to “shock dose” the hot water system with chlorine in order to comprehensively flush the whole system.

In an abundance of caution, the Landlord is looking to upgrade the hot water supplies to each House and to each flat. An engineering team is currently designing the system specifications and tendering of the project to contractors is underway.

It is anticipated that the work will be completed within 12 months. In addition to this we will be looking to upgrade a number of taps and showers within flats to newer models following the audit.

 

11. Has the fountain in the garden been tested?

The fountain is automatically dosed and is tested regularly.

 

Gym & Spa Client Questions:

12. Are the Swimming Pool, Gym and Spa showers and steam room safe?

The Pool is chlorinated and tested regularly to comply with UK pool management and hygiene regulations.  Outlets are flushed through with regular use by the 1500 average monthly members who use the Gym and sanitary ware and items are cleaned and kept descaled as part of our housekeeping service regime.

Water temperature checks and water sampling is also regularly carried out. We have carried out full sampling across the whole of the Gym and Spa this week (8th July 2019). The steam room and steam equipment operates at a high temperature to kill any bacteria which may be present in the water used as part of the system.

 

13. Is the air conditioning system in the Gym safe?

The air conditioning system is a closed system which is not connected to the water supply.

 

Dolphin House Questions:

14. I am staying, or am due to stay in Dolphin House, is my flat safe?

The central water supply is monitored daily and we regularly check water temperatures across the Estate. Outlets are flushed through, sanitary ware and items are cleaned and kept descaled as part of our daily housekeeping service regime.

 

Media:

15. Where should media enquiries be directed?

Please contact: [email protected]