Legionnaires’ disease fear at leisure centre

Players and coaches from Oxgangs under-15s have been hit by the closure. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Players and coaches from Oxgangs under-15s have been hit by the closure. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A LEISURE centre in Edinburgh has been closed amid fears of a legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

The £1m pavilion at Colinton Mains Park has been closed after a routine safety check found high water temperatures within the building had created ideal conditions for the deadly disease.

The shock discovery has led to calls for urgent inspections of leisure facilities across the city to be carried out.

The call for an immediate health review of similar buildings was made as contractors rush to carry out cleansing and repair works to eliminate the high risk.

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria that thrive in stagnant water.

An investigation of the Oxgangs Road North centre found temperatures in the building’s cold water system had soared far above acceptable levels, in a breach of the Health & Safety Executive’s code of practice. The centre, which opened 12 months ago following a huge cash investment from the council and Sport Scotland, closed on August 10.

The Edinburgh Leisure centre was unused for several months over the summer, meaning no water turning over within the building.

Colinton/Fairmilehead ward councillor Jason Rust has urged the council to carry out safety checks on all other equivalent sports centres to eliminate the possibility of outbreaks.

He said: “I am disappointed and concerned that these problems have been encountered, but thankful that the potential risk to users of the pavilion has been averted. Residents are keen to make use of the facility and the sooner the remedial operations are satisfactorily completed the better.”

Workers have had to clean and chlorinate the pavilion’s water tank and system to get rid of any bugs. A smaller replacement tank will be installed in efforts to increase the rate of water turnover and keep temperatures down, preventing another threat of legionella growth.

Sporting groups which use the pavilion have been told it is due to re-open this weekend.

Brian Lee, club leader of AC Oxgangs Football Club, said: “To receive a phone call and have to change games around it [the closure] at the last minute was not ideal. We’ve actually played games there with no changing facilities, which is a big inconvenience not only for us but for visiting teams.

“We’re glad they did pick it up, but it’s a worry when you get a brand new building and this can be flagged up.”

An Edinburgh Leisure spokeswoman said: “We have a robust programme in place to ensure that we are never putting our customers at risk. In fact, it was as a result of these checks that we took the decision to close the venue. All Edinburgh Leisure venues 
follow these rigorous procedures and there are checks carried out on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and six-monthly basis, with detailed records kept of all checks.”

It is not the first time that controversy has dogged the pavilion. City leaders were forced to scrap plans for a community hall to be built next to the sports centre after housebuilder Applecross went under, robbing the local authority of the cash it intended to use on the project.

Outbreak killed four

RESULTS from an investigation into last year’s legionnaires’ disease outbreak are yet to be revealed.

Four people died as a result of the outbreak, with the legionella bug spread by a cloud of vapour from a cooling tower in Gorgie.

As many as 92 people are believed to have contracted the disease.