NewsLocal News


Contractor to treat Chesterfield school cooling towers weekly

Posted at 2:41 PM, Oct 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-07 17:27:41-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- All cooling towers in the Chesterfield County School system have been cleaned and tested negative for Legionella bacteria, according to Chesterfield School officials. School leaders updated the School Board Monday afternoon and said the school system and a contractor are treating the water in the cooling towers weekly.

The contractor charged with the weekly treatment is Water Chemistry, Inc.

Water Chemistry, Inc. first raised red flags about the condition of the cooling towers back in 2017.

WTVR CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit examined Chesterfield's HVAC inspection reports over the past year. In those reports, Water Chemistry, Inc. noted that all HVAC systems in Chesterfield Schools have seen minimal or no service performed over the last two or more years, which could result in negative impacts.

The contractor suggested that the cooling towers needed to be cleaned, preventative maintenance needed to be done, and some should be tested for the Legionella bacteria.

This summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) found many of the school cooling towers were dirty and a handful had levels of the legionella bacteria.

Five Chesterfield County schools have tested positive for the strain for Legionella bacteria that can cause Legionnaire’s disease. Those schools include Matoaca High School, L.C. Bird High School, Greenfield Elementary, Midlothian Middle School and Falling Creek Middle. Two other schools tested positive for LP2 bacteria, a “less severe” strain of Legionella bacteria.

That was after VDH noticed an uptick in the number of Legionnaires cases in the county, which is caused by legionella bacteria.

A teacher at Cosby High School was diagnosed with Legionnaires disease in December.

The school system said the contractor has completed all necessary repairs and an HVAC preventative maintenance contract will be awarded in November.