Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (410)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

410. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the testing of water quality in a school (details support) which resulted in the school closing; the assistance given to the school to remedy the issue; if issues with public health are envisaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14121/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The water test results for the school to which the Deputy refers produced a positive result for a particular bacterium. The test results were made available to my Department on 20 March last. My Department took immediate action and arranged for the water systems in the school to be disinfected and flushed in accordance with the National Guidelines in this matter which are published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/legionellosis/publications/File,3936,en.pdf. The remedy was implemented on the afternoon of 20 March outside of school hours to prevent disruption to the school.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) confirmed that the action taken by my Department was consistent with the guidelines. While the school authority took a decision to close, the HSA also confirmed that an occurrence of this bacterium is a low level risk to be dealt with by way of a managed approach though implementation of the National Guidelines.

The HSE confirmed to my Department that the detection of this bacterium is not a public health issue.

Schools have been issued with guidance on managing Health and Safety issues in their buildings. This includes guidance on controlling the bacterium in question. Regular flushing of water systems and cleaning of shower heads and other water outlets such as taps is required. The link to this guidance is https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Health-Safety-Guidelines/