Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

Amid Legionnaires' Outbreak, Councilman Calls For Easier Tracking Of Cooling Towers

July 18, 2018 - 5:23 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- With one person now dead in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Washington Heights, an Upper Manhattan lawmaker is calling on the city to make it easier for average people to track their neighborhood cooling towers.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-10th) represents the area impacted by the current outbreak. He wants to facilitate people’s ability to go online to find whether buildings in their neighborhood have had their cooling towers checked.

“What I say is that the new window for those violations is addressing the cooling water towers,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I say when anyone clicks, the Department of Buildings should have a specific window dedicated to the cooling watering towers.”

Rodriguez is also working on legislation to increase the fines for failure to adequately maintain cooling towers from $2,000 to $5,000 for the first offense.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Tuesday that one person has died in the latest Legionnaires’ outbreak, and at least seven people from Washington Heights and Upper Hamilton Heights have been hospitalized for the disease.

Legionnaires’ is contracted by breathing in water vapor that contains the Legionella bacteria.

All the cooling towers in the area – 20 in total – have been tested and treated.