Legionella Found in Cooling Plant: Forschungszentrum Jülich Takes Emergency Measures

26 September 2014. Significantly increased numbers of Legionella bacteria have been found in a cooling plant at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The public health authorities in Düren informed Forschungszentrum Jülich of their findings today. Jülich immediately shut down the affected cooling plant. Disinfection measures began at once. As of now, any danger of infection from this plant can therefore be ruled out. Increased numbers of Legionella bacteria were not found at either of the other two cooling plants at Forschungszentrum Jülich. However, as a precaution their throughput has been reduced and additional disinfection measures taken. From now on samples will be taken every day. Drinking water at Forschungszentrum Jülich is not affected.

The State Agency for Nature, the Environment, and Consumer Protection (LANUV) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia took samples from all three cooling plants last Saturday, which were then tested in a laboratory at the university hospital in Bonn. The results became available at lunchtime today. According to the health authorities in Düren, it is not clear whether the cooling plant is the source of the outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in the Düren district. This can only be clarified by further investigations.

Forschungszentrum Jülich will offer the public health authorities every assistance in clarifying these questions. "We are very concerned about these findings," said Karsten Beneke, vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich. "The water in our cooling plants is monitored regularly and nothing unusual has been discovered previously. We take our responsibilities for the health of our employees and residents in the local community very seriously and have immediately shut down the source of infection. We are now doing everything in order to clarify the situation as fast as possible."

The increased number of Legionella bacteria were not measured in the cold water from the cooling plant but rather in the fine spray that arises during the production of cold water and which is given off into the ambient air. Legionella bacteria are particularly dangerous if they are inhaled. Person-to-person transmission is very unlikely.

Further information

Press release from the Düren public health authorities (in German)

Fact sheet on infections with Legionelle bacteria (in German)

Press Contact

Dr. Anne Rother
Press Spokesperson / Head of Corporate Communications
Telefon: +49 2461 61-4661
E-Mail: a.rother@fz-juelich.de

Last Modified: 22.05.2022