WO replaces filters in Town Hall after legionella is found

West Orange Town Hall

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The municipal building was recently found to have unsafe levels of legionella bacteria in its water sources, after a township employee was hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease two weeks ago, according to a July 26 press release from the town. Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia, caused by bacteria found in potable and nonpotable water systems. The employee has since been released from the hospital and is recovering, as the township tests other buildings.

In an email to the West Orange Chronicle on July 27, Public Information Officer Susan Anderson said hospital-approved filters have been installed on all public water sources in the municipal building.

“We are pleased that the employee is making a recovery and are implementing all remedial steps to eliminate the bacteria in question,” West Orange Business Administrator Jack Sayers said in the release.

Mayor Robert Parisi described the precautions being taken to prevent more township employees from contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

“The township is giving this health issue the importance and attention it demands,” he said in the release. “We have been assured by outside consultants and experts that by shutting down the potable water supply, installing filters which are being delivered today, replacing the hot water heater which has already been disconnected and making plumbing repairs that the conditions will be remedied and safe. We will insure that all prescribed remedies are in place as quickly as possible.”

On July 27, Parisi said that the testing of the other municipal buildings would begin the following week. The test results will be made available to the public.

“No information exists that any other buildings are subject to the bacteria but, as a precaution, the township is testing our other township-owned facilities,” he said.

West Orange Health Officer Theresa De Nova said in an email on July 27 that Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious.

“It is not contagious, person to person; it is not airborne; it cannot be contracted by drinking or touching water; and the way it is contracted is by inhaling contaminated water mist,” she said.

Photo by Amanda Valentovic