Legionella concerns at centre of Daisyfield Pools closure decision

Published Wednesday 23 August 2023 at 17:04

Detailed health and safety reasons for the closure of all operations and services at the independently run pool on August 19 have been revealed.

The health and safety concerns regarding operations, including a detailed assessment from an independent swimming pool and water filtration company, include:

  • Two discoveries of legionella bacteria found in hot and cold water supplies in various parts of the building.
  • The independent laboratory commissioned to test for legionella in all Council owned swimming pools had also raised concerns that showers were being taken out of use. The water heater was being turned off at certain periods and flushing of the water system was not being done properly, all of which significantly increase the risk of further positive legionella readings in the building.
  • Pool testing equipment used by the centre was in poor condition and unclean, therefore would not provide accurate readings. The pump which puts chlorine into the main pool was found to be leaking, the operator had become aware and at some point shielded the leak with a plastic bag to prevent chlorine being sprayed on anyone in the plant room. Pool chemicals have a shelf life of 12 months, however the date on the product found at the pool was recorded as July 2017 meaning the product is 6 years old and would have little effect when used. Historical pool water test sheets were reviewed and there were many recorded readings which are out of acceptable range, particularly in the morning and evenings.

Executive councillors will be presented with the findings of the review and recommendations for next steps at a meeting of the Council’s Executive Board on Thursday, September 7.

HALF Fish, an independent swimming organisation, took over the day-to-day running of the facility under an asset transfer arrangement in 2016 following a Leisure Review and a consultation process. The operational and management arrangements were agreed at this time and the condition of the 118 year old building was made clear.

Martin Eden, Strategy Director of Environment & Operations, commented:

We have serious concerns about HALF Fish’s management of the pools, and in particular the risk of reoccurrence of legionella. With regards to the health and safety of pool users, we had to step in and make the decision to close the pools. It would not have been right, or indeed safe, to allow the pools to remain open.

An independent swimming pool and water filtration company provided the Council with audit report on the management of the pool plant. On the day of their visit the chlorine levels were found to be unacceptably low in both pools which should have prompted swimming to be suspended and the chlorine levels rectified before the pools were re-opened to the public.

On the two occasions when legionella bacteria was detected at Daisyfield Pools, Council staff stepped in to arrange urgent treatment and follow-up inspections, on behalf of HALF Fish.

Councillor Damian Talbot, Executive Member for Prevention, Health & Wellbeing, added:

We know that closing Daisyfield Pools was not a popular decision, however when in possession of all the facts closure was the only responsible option available to the Council.

The health and safety of pool users, and also HALF Fish staff and volunteers, is of utmost importance, and the decision to close was made to protect them from potential future legionella outbreaks.

The Council will remain in close contact with the management of HALF Fish and have listened to their concerns, and those of their customers and community.

The report to September’s Executive Board will contain details of a condition survey and set out the scale of investment that would be needed to bring Daisyfield Pools up to an acceptable standard, as well as how people can access any consultations that may be recommended.

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