Gov. Cuomo joins call for cooling tower rules

A total of 18 water cooling towers have now tested positive for legionella bacteria, health officials say.

A total of 18 water cooling towers have now tested positive for legionella bacteria, health officials say. (8/11/15)

THE BRONX - Cleaning crews worked to disinfect another water cooling tower just blocks away from where health officials held a town hall meeting on the Legionnaires' outbreak Tuesday night.

The cleaning company's manager said the tower above a store on Sheridan Avenue was similar to the one at the Opera House Hotel, which his company also cleaned.

"There was a little bit of growth inside, or scale buildup or algae buildup," said Michael Dorvilliers. "It really wasn't terrible, but we're going to clean it."

Nearby, health officials met with area residents, trying to raise awareness of how the disease is spread.

Legionnaires' disease cannot be contracted person to person, according to officials.

Testing and cleaning is ongoing throughout the city on other water cooling towers.

In an effort to expand the fight against legionella, Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Mayor Bill de Blasio's call for fast-tracked legislation to regulate water cooling towers.

City leaders introduced legislation Monday that would regulate cooling towers and mandate inspections and disinfection. The governor advocated similar regulations statewide.

Such rules would be the first of their kind, according to de Blasio.

Almost 20 cooling towers have tested positive for the legionella bacteria, according to officials. Most are located within the "outbreak impact zone" in the South Bronx.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services set up a mobile command center in the area to monitor the situation as state health workers continue to raise awareness of the disease and aid in cooling tower testing.

Earlier in the day, health officials said a Rikers Island inmate tested positive for Legionnaires' disease, although it is not believed to be related to the current deadly outbreak in the South Bronx. 

The inmate is being treated with antibiotics.

The prison facility has six active water cooling towers, which have all been disinfected within the last month, but were cleaned again as a precaution, corrections officials said.

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