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Health News

Legionnaires' linked to distillery


Cooling towers have been shut down at a whisky distillery in Edinburgh which is at the centre of an investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has served an improvement notice on the North British Distillery (NBD) for alleged failures to adequately control risks of legionella in one tower. NBD said it had taken its towers offline and halted production at its Gorgie plant as a precaution. The North British Distillery is one of six sites being investigated by the HSE. It produces non-branded grain whisky for use in blends.

The HSE said its improvement notice related to one cooling tower, but the company had chosen to take all of its three towers out of operation.

Scotland's chief medical officer said he hoped cases of the disease would peak over the weekend. Sir Harry Burns said this would depend on whether the suspected cooling tower is the source of the outbreak. If not, cases may continue to rise. A spokesman for NBD said: "Our thoughts are clearly with the families of those affected by this situation. Ensuring the health and safety of our employees and the local community is our highest priority."

The spokesman said that having reviewed the current situation, NBD had voluntarily taken its cooling towers offline until the legionella results from samples taken earlier this week are reported.

"While this precautionary operation is under way we have temporarily ceased distillation," he said.