August 11, 2015
NEW YORK—Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the State and City would take the unprecedented step of jointly crafting and instituting uniform regulations to combat Legionnaires’ disease. The regulations and legislation are being drafted by the Governor’s Office, Mayor’s Office and City Council representatives. The unparalleled outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx this summer, and other outbreaks across the state, have posed new challenges which government must respond to rapidly.
The regulations will mandate timeframes and processes for maintenance and testing of cooling towers, fines for failure to comply, and a statewide registry. This package to systematically register and maintain cooling towers for the purposes of fighting Legionnaires’ disease would be the first of its kind.
City legislation will be passed by the City Council and adopted by the Mayor, while the Governor will use his emergency powers to make the policy statewide. The goal is to have the regulation completed in the next several days.
“Protecting the public health is our number one priority,” said Governor Cuomo. “I want the people of New York to know that we are doing everything necessary to tackle this outbreak and stop it from happening again. This unified approach will help in this effort, and I want to thank the City for working hand-in-hand on these emergency regulations to prevent the occurrence of Legionnaires’ disease in the future.”
“An unprecedented event like this outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx requires an unprecedented response,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This legislative action will be the first of its kind for a major American city, as well as the first set of regulations by any state in the union, and it will establish new registration, cleaning and monitoring standards for cooling towers in the fight against Legionnaires’ disease. As the current outbreak tapers off, we now look to how to prevent these outbreaks in the future, and this groundbreaking legislation provides the tools needed to safeguard our communities. The Mayor’s Office continues to work in coordination with the City Council, as well as with our state and federal partners, to keep our people safe and protect public health.”
New York City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito said, “The New York City Council is proud to serve as a model for the rest of New York State as we work together to create new regulations for cooling towers to fight Legionnaires’ disease. The legislation which I am sponsoring with my colleagues Vanessa Gibson, Corey Johnson and Jumaane Williams will create new registration, maintenance and inspection requirements for cooling towers and will give the City the information and tools it needs to enforce them. The City, under Mayor Bill de Blasio and Dr. Mary T, Bassett; the State, under Governor Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Howard Zucker; and federal governments have all been collaborating throughout this outbreak and we look forward to continuing to work together for all New Yorkers.”