In a routine check, the University has detected legionella bacteria in parts of the water system of St Salvator's Hall and Gannochy. Student residents were notified and asked to not use the water and to vacate the residences for 8 hours on Sunday and Monday so that the bacteria could be flushed out of the system. The work in Gannochy has now been completed.
On Wednesday 11 November 2020, in an email to residents at both St Salvator’s Hall and Gannochy, Accommodation Services informed students of the detection of legionella bacteria in parts of the water system.
Speaking of this, a University spokesperson said, “As part of routine and regular testing, we detected the presence of legionella bacteria in some parts of the water system supplying St Salvator’s Hall and Gannochy Hall in St Andrews.”
They continued, “Legionella is a group of bacteria which in some instances can cause a pneumonia-type illness called Legionnaires’ disease. Though uncommon, Legionnaires’ disease can be serious in elderly people, or people with compromised immune systems. Legionella at low levels is not uncommon in water supplies, which is why we test for it regularly.”
“This is not an outbreak of legionella, as some media have incorrectly reported. No one is infected, nor is the infection spreading.
“We believe the risk to our students and staff in these residences is very low, but we have acted quickly and comprehensively to flush and clean the water system in the residences, and take all appropriate precautions.”
Student Accommodation previously asked residents to help their effort to flush the system and restore the water system by running taps for 10 minutes daily at low pressure. Students were also asked to not drink tap water or brush their teeth with it and to avoid using showers and to close the lids of toilets when flushing.
Bottled water and additional supplies of hand sanitiser have been provided to residents along with alternative shower arrangements.
The Estates team worked to establish the source of the legionella in the system and to “pursue chemical, mechanical, and engineering solutions to ensure water supplies are reinstated.”
In a second email on Friday 13 November 2020, accommodation services informed residents that they would be flushing the system with chlorine dioxide and, therefore, required students to vacate the halls for 8 hours each day on Sunday 15 November 2020 and Monday 16 November 2020 from 9am. Students were provided with a study space and a hot meal at the David Russell Apartment facilities building.
Shower facilities have also been made available to residents of the halls at the Can Do Marquee and the Sports Centre for 15-minute slots.
Nikolaj, a student who is currently residing at the hall, said “I think all the students understand that the staff here are doing their best in what is not an ideal situation, but the University administration should have fixed the problems that obviously existed with the system a long time ago. Who knows when this will happen again?”
A University spokesperson confirmed that the work in Gannochy has now been completed.
They said, “The work in Gannochy is now complete and the facilities returned to normal. We anticipate that the work in Sallies will be complete by Tuesday evening.”