One of the leading pharmaceutical company GSK on 11th Aug 2015 temporarily shut down a production site in North Carolina after finding the Legionnaires’ disease causing bacteria in its cooling tower. GSK sent staff home while it sanitized the tower and investigated the effect of the situation. The finding comes at a time when Legionnaires’ disease has been popular in the news.
Spokeswoman Jenni Ligday confirmed a report in the Raleigh News & Observer that GSK shut down the site in Zebulon on Tuesday following routine check that resulted in the Legionella bacteria being identified in a cooling tower.
Jenni Ligday told in statement that, the staff who work at the major site were sent home as a “prevention measure,” and that 2nd and 3rd shift workers were told not to report to work till further notice while the situation is remedied. More than 800 people work at the facilities.
In her first email she said the tower will be cleaned out and retested before work resumes. “We are taking each and every safety measure to make sure the health and safety of our workers, along with the safety and reliability of our products.”
In a second email Jenni Ligday stated, “The cooling tower is a separate structure, which does not come into contact with product manufactured at the site.”
Zebulon Mayor Robert S. Matheny said that the GSK Zebulon plant’s cooling system utilizes “recycled water and not drinking water,” so it’s irrelevant to the area’s water supply.
But that does not indicate there is no risk, given that the bacteria could spread in the plant’s air supply, most likely threatening employees and products.
“GSK’s Zebulon plant means a lot to our area, so we are worried, but our top priority is the wellbeing and safety of our community. And we have been confident that everything is good with that” said Matheny.
Chris Kelly, a spokesman for FDA, stated the “FDA is conscious and keeping track of the situation at the GSK’s Zebulon plant”.