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Legionella bacteria found at Statehouse

Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018

* According to the Secretary of State’s office, Legionella bacteria was found in a humidifier that serves the south end of the Capitol Building, which is the House’s side. The humidifier, I’m told, has been shut off.

From a memo…

TO: All Capitol Complex State Employees

FROM: Mike Wojcik, Director of Physical Services, Secretary of State
Trey Childress, Deputy Governor & Chief Operating Officer

SUBJECT: Update on Water Testing for Legionella Bacteria

DATE: February 7, 2018

Reliable Environmental Solutions, Inc., in concert with the Secretary of State Physical Services Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), BRiC Partnership, LLC Consulting Engineers, the Capital Development Board (CDB) and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (OAC) continue to test the water throughout the Capitol Complex. We provide you this update because thus far, of more than 300 preliminary water test results, four have indicated a positive reading for the presence of Legionella bacteria. Water testing is ongoing and final results are expected within two weeks.

As a result of the positive findings, remedial efforts are underway to drain and disinfect those areas that have preliminarily tested positive for the bacteria. Also, a water flushing program has been instituted throughout the Capitol Complex to maximize fresh water running through the pipes and fixtures. The Secretary of State Physical Services Department previously removed aerators and disabled the showers in the Capitol Complex. Removing aerators allows for a non-aerated and thinner stream of water for hand washing.

Legionella is the bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease. We are not aware of any reports of Legionnaires’ disease among Springfield state employees or the general public. We have been advised by experts that the transmission of this bacteria in normal, day-to-day office operations is unlikely. This is an issue we continue to take seriously and the health and safety of state employees and visitors remains our top priority. We will pass along relevant updates as they become available.

For more information regarding Legionella bacteria, please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website:

Two of the four locations were in the cooling tower at the CMS Computer Center on West Adams St. The other was in the women’s restroom in the Howlett Building’s basement.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 360 Degree Turnaround - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:29 pm:

    Thank you SOS for communicating. Very easy and important.

  2. - NINE TIMES! - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:32 pm:

    I suspect Senator Castro will get to the bottom of this immediately.

  3. - reddevil1 - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:34 pm:

    so what are they going too do to ensure that the workers in those areas are safe?

  4. - reddevil1 - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:35 pm:

    Also would like to add that the “CMS Computer Center” is actually a DOIT building.

  5. - Whatever - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:41 pm:

    Those of us who work in the state computer center just found out on capitol fax that our building tested positive. SOS didn’t communicate nothing. They are hiding the facts from the state employees who have been sick for months. Why do you thing the building is a construction zone? Time for a big-time investigation I think.

  6. - DuPage - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    Generally, cooling towers are treated with chlorine added regularly. Finding this bacteria in the cooling tower indicates more treatment quantity or frequency is needed. Some places have a water treatment company set up an injector pump/monitor system that keeps a constant chlorine level. Other places manually add bottles of bleach regularly or have blocks of solid slow dissolving swimming pool chlorinator tied to a rope in the tower.
    I don’t know why this lack of cooling tower safety would happen in state-owned buildings, unless their water treatment company dropped them for non-payment and no one else wants the account.

  7. - Glengarry - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    The Rauner Administration should take notes on how to react.

  8. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 5:44 pm:

    DuPage is correct here. I sincerely hope this problem at the computer center was not caused by negligence or non-payment. Way back in the day, when AA oversaw maintenance of that building, it was in top-flight condition.

  9. - OpenYourEyes - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 6:13 pm:

    So, the employees at the Data Center were advised of a mold issue and evacuated in September 2016. Everyone was assured there was nothing to worry about even though the employees were given a 1 day notice to vacate.

    Employees moved back into the building in September 2017 only to be subjected to sand blasting dust from construction and cleanup efforts.

    Now the same employees are learning there is “active” legionella bacteria. The same thing that killed 13 veterans.

    WOW… I would hate to be in that building.

  10. - In the Dust - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 9:32 pm:

    I would hate to be in that building too, but I am. What a mess it is. Thick dust from sandblasting, folks out sick for a week plus at a time. Management does not seem to care. They offered up dust masks for those who complained of the dust and ear plugs for those who complained of the noise of construction so loud you could not be on the phone. All complaints fall on deaf ears. Our government in action at it’s finest.
    And it is a CMS facility for those who complain of DoIT. Check it out.

  11. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 9:36 pm:

    In the Dust, just for my curiosity, what is the nature of the construction?

  12. - In the Dust - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 10:06 pm:

    We were told, water from condensation from the third floor cooling, (also a cause of the mold to the 2nd floor), to the outside roof tiles, causing them to rust and buckle. Hence, ripping them all out, sand blasting everything in site. You can see outside from INSIDE the second floor.

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